Phuket Opinion: Electric smile

PHUKET: Every now and then, Phuket takes a small step that can make all the difference. The small news story noting that Phuket has a new power substation to manage more effectively its array of step-down transformers foreshadows the likelihood of greater amplitude and reliability in the island’s supply of electricity.

The Koh Kaew power station is one of only three in Phuket that takes the central power feed from the mainland and transforms it to a lower voltage so that it can be deployed to other substations, which in turn supply the homes, businesses, hotels, bars and restaurants across the island.

As boring as it sounds, this small advance should mean far fewer blackouts, especially in the north of the island, where much of Phuket’s urban sprawl of residential development is spreading at an alarming rate. And anyone who has spent even a year on Phuket knows just how tiresome, inconvenient and infuriating a blackout can be.

For years the Gazette has reported the scheduled blackouts enforced by the Phuket Provincial Electricity Authority (PPEA) so that its workers can carry out maintenance, in the hope that advance notice might help business owners and families to prepare for the power cuts.

But such news is often overlooked by island residents, including the recent good news that these obligatory “Earth Hours” are already on the wane.

Also seemingly unacknowledged by the public was a recent contribution from German electricity grid experts who provided and installed – free of charge – a switching center in Chalong that redirected power supply so that areas affected by blackouts would spend less time in the dark. The rerouting of the feed through another part of the grid was an ingenious and simple solution that failed to attract the appreciation it deserved.

Some Gazette readers might remember that only a handful of years ago a blackout on Patong’s Soi Bangla received national recognition in a daily newspaper for the way the locals – in the middle of the tourism low season – cheered the entire length of the street when the power went off, and then cheered again two hours later when it came back on. Such was the village spirit and quality of our electricity supply at the time.

Today, grumbles among residents can be heard almost as a chorus when any of Phuket’s infrastructure creaks under the strain of our rate of development. But it’s worth noting that even the mighty Las Vegas took 50 years to sustain a population of a million people. Phuket’s done it in under 20.

The era of day-long power cuts is not far gone, so the next time our island encounters yet another power outage, it might be best to appreciate what is being done to alleviate the pain, instead of complaining about it. A flicker of gratitude might even improve our day, whereas whinging would surely make it worse.

But those still of a view that complaining will improve their spirits are welcome to vent in the Phuket Forum, where constructive views are accepted too.

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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