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Opinion: Stop paying the power bill, Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: It’s hard to argue with the objective of the Ministry of Energy’s campaign to reduce electric power consumption on the island by 10 per cent within six months, but the Gazette hopes that more energy will be saved in the effort than calories expended.

As mentioned in an announcement by Ministry of Energy Inspector Pramoul Chanpong, primary targets include private-sector businesses, including hotels, shopping malls and condo projects.

Government buildings were also mentioned, but these should be the primary targets – not only to set an example for the public, but also because the government needlessly wastes power in ways few private businesses could afford – or even imagine.

The sad fact is that for decades successive governments have lagged woefully behind the private sector when it comes to energy saving, both in terms of implementing cost-efficient, energy-saving designs as well as the sheer number or kilowatt hours wasted through neglect, indifference and lack of any real incentive to conserve: after all, the underlying reasoning appears to be that taxpayers will foot the bill in the end.

It is shameful how government offices at all levels waste energy by conducting ‘face-value’ events, despite years of pleas for the nation to act in moderation and with energy efficiency in mind.

Much to the contrary, the situation across most of the private sector is what takes place in the vast majority of Phuket households and small businesses. The person ultimately responsible for footing the bill – the main breadwinner or business owner – invariably leads the charge to keep costs down by forcing those under them to conduct easily-understood cost-saving measures, such as switching off air-conditioners, lights and other electrical appliances when they are not really needed.

As for government waste, it appears to matter little which political party, if any, is in control at the time. Just a few years back, convoys of ‘sound trucks’ crawled though the narrow streets of Phuket Town to present billboard displays and distorted, high-decibel sound messages imploring people to ‘report corruption’.

We are not aware if any cost-benefit analysis of that campaign was ever carried out. What we do know is that the government behind it – the same one that subsidized a huge expansion in the number of new vehicles across the Kingdom – was brought down amid corruption charges with surprisingly little public outcry, especially given the methods used.

The Gazette can think of many government offices that could do with an energy-saving overhaul. One that quickly comes to mind – of all irony – is the main electricity bill-payment office in Phuket Town, where an array of high-BTU air-conditioning units pump continuously while the doors remain open much of the time.

 

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

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