[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

28265: Durban (comment): Cleaning House at Ed'H (fwd)

Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com> writes:

I read with interest the Corbett discussion of alternative energy
possibilities, but other than possibly solar energy for limited
applications, I am not convinced that alternate energy is the way to
go.  The problem is that most of these systems require very significant
capital outlays up front, and Haiti has better and more urgent capital
investment needs.

What IS needed, in my opinion, is a major makeover of Ed'H.  To quote
my own Corbett post of June 2004...

  Ed'H is meeting an ever-diminishing percentage of the public
  demand for electricity and should have been re-organized or
  privatized long ago.  There are very few private sector
  businesses with (1) a guaranteed demand by consumers willing
  and able to pay AND (2) pretty much the right to charge
  whatever it wants.  That Ed'H is still unable to supply the
  product in sufficient quantity is indeed a sad commentary on
  its management.

  ...(In a 2001 Corbett post) I related hearing that an Ed'H
  official had acknowledged that less than 50% of the
  residential electricity is paid for and that even commercial
  collections had dropped to around 80%.  This official had
  gone on to complain that  poor collections were really a
  political problem (pa faute moin!) since Ed'H  trucks were
  increasingly afraid to disconnect unauthorized connections
  in poorer neighborhoods for fear of being stoned (or worse).
  What was required, he  maintained, was police escort for the
  Ed'H trucks doing the disconnecting.

  Unfortunately, as long as Ed'H is a government entity,
  cutting off non-payers may be a political hot potato.
  That's a pity, because a business that cannot collect for
  its product is not a viable business.  The Ed'H solution has
  been to try and bill the people who do pay their bills even
  more.  The result is that many of the few remaining
  factories in-country routinely provide all of their own power
  even when Ed'H is "on".

  To quote my (2001) Corbett post...
    a big house in the hills above Petionville connected
    to Ed'H but with an inverter system and generator for
    back-up pays about US$.12 to .13 per KWH these days
    (June 2001).  A moderate-usage factory near the
    industrial park next to the airport pays Ed'H around
    US$ .21 to .22 per KWH.  Now, assume the factory runs
    a 250 KW generator (costing US$23,000 in Miami) with an
    assumed 6 year lifespan, the cost of spare parts and
    regular maintenance, and the current price of diesel.
    Voila, this factory can generate ALL of its own power
    for around US$.15-.18/KWH.... Gradual loss of its prime
    base of paying customers ought to be a concern of Ed'H,
    yet I wonder if they have even noticed.

  These days, of course, no business can survive without
  generating virtually all of its own power, since Ed'H
  is supplying almost none.

  What course of action would I today recommend for Ed'H?
  The first thing is to generate more power.  That's where
  foreign aid may be needed to prime the pump.  But, that's
  the easy part.

  Secondly, Ed'H needs to start collecting from its customers
  and penalize those who do not pay with summary disconnections.
  To prevent those illegal hook-ups from rapidly re-appearing,
  don't just disconnect them, disconnect them and shoot a 220
  volt charge down the line to permanently disable the illegally
  connected fridge, TV, clock, or whatever!  Arguably a
  popularly-elected President would have an easier time of
  administering this bitter medicine than the present
  government but the job needs doing.   I am betting that there
  would be relatively few burned out refrigerators, TV's, radios,
  etc. as people hastened to either:
     1.  disconnect on their illegal hook-up on their own
     2.  sign up for a legal counter
     3.  cut a deal with a 'legal' neighbor to tap into
            Ed'H power running through his counter.

  To offset the hard feelings caused by cutting off the illegal
  connections, Ed'H might combine it with installation of
  additional street lights in those affected neighborhoods.
  That's good for "security" and was one of the more popular
  Aristide programs, even if it was extremely limited in scope.

The above few paragraphs were from June 2004, but with the next round
of legislative elections coming up soon, now is the time voters should
be asking candidates how they propose to solve the electricity problem.
 President-elect Preval was given a free ride on that question in his
presidential campaign, but with his May 14th inauguration fast
approaching, the monkey will soon be on his back.  Residents of Haiti
will be interested to see if he decides to tackle it, or if they will
be treated to more of the same.

Lance Durban