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Electricity: C'mon, no one uses less that 200kW

The recently announced increase in public and company electricity tariffs had me curious. I noticed that the announcement claimed that less than half of all households would be affected and that there would be no additional charges if a household's monthly use was below 200kW.

So I took a look at the electricity bill for the house I rent to teach classes. The reason I chose that electric bill was because its usage is extremely low. No one actually lives in the house and it's used by staff for 28 hours or less each week.

During the time when the house is in use for classes, we have 1-2 ceiling fans in use, one air- conditioner, a lap top and a projector, plus one medium-sized refrigerator. Of course, the refrigerator is always running, but the other things mentioned are only running during those 28 hours for each week, and in many cases less than 28 hours because we don't need the laptop and projector for all the 28 hours each week.

We rarely use the lights in the house because classes are during the day and end by 6:30 pm and the house has a large amount of natural lighting for all rooms. There is nothing left on standby mode either.

So if you do the maths, that's 28 x 4 weeks which comes up to 112 hours of use a month out of a total of 672 possible hours of use (24 x 7 x 4). Do you want to guess how many kilowatts is used for that 112 hours?

When I took a look, I was shocked. It was 248kW! The month before that was 228kW. Even with so little use of electricity, my bill still doesn't fall below the 200kW needed to qualify for no hike in my electricity bill.

I ask myself, if the house I and my staff use for 28 hours a week (slightly over one day of the week) doesn't fall below the amount needed to avoid a price hike, how can it possibly be true that this electricity price increase will affect less than half of the households in Malaysia?

Who uses electricity for less than 28 hours a week in their home? Even if they did, a household typically has more appliances and other objects that use electricity (washing machine, TV, rice cooker, computer, cd/tape player, hot pot, etc.).

That doesn't even include using the lights each night!

Who thought of these ridiculous numbers (less than 200kW and less than half of Malaysian households)? The increase is huge; it's going to effect every household and it's going to affect businesses even more with a 26% hike!

We see prices going sky-high now for petrol increases, but be prepared for another jump when this price increases kick in in July! It angers me that the government could even think of making false statements that less than half of all households will be affected.

Dangling a virtually unattainable 200 or less kilowatts in front of the public is worse. Short of installing solar panels and wind energy converters, even a passionate environmentalist couldn't make the cut in their household, no matter how much they tried to conserve.

Part of leadership is being honest and also taking responsibility and stepping down when you've made a mess of things. It's being compassionate and caring enough to make sure that those you lead can keep up with the pace you set.

The image that comes to mind is of a sports coach, riding in a car and shouting at the athlete to run faster as he pushes the speed higher. The coach asks, ‘What's the problem? I'm suffering too. I don't have the air conditioning on in here!’

Subsidy reform is a fine idea, but if you set the reform pace too fast and leave the citizens behind struggling to keep up, then you need to step aside. Let others who have the political will put in place the real changes needed take the reins.

I end with this interesting quote from the autobiography of Harry Golden - ‘The arrogance of the young is a direct result of not having known enough consequences. The turkey that every day greedily approaches the farmer who tosses him grain is not wrong.

‘It is just that no one ever told him about Thanksgiving.

Well, folks, Thanksgiving has arrived, but which turkeys are going to be on the table?

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