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02.04.2007 General News

Getting Serious With Energy

The most pressing issue confronting Ghanaians today is dwindling power supply, which has resulted in load-shedding affecting many homes and enterprises.

It is true that on the continent, we are better off than some countries in the provision of social services, including power.

However, we are aiming high and that is why we are compelled to return to the energy issue. Right now, the suggestion on the floor is the payment of realistic tariff for power.

It is important that the operators in the sector become proactive, since energy is a critical component in the country's social and economic development.

On the issue of tariff, conventional wisdom indicates that no one should produce a commodity and sell it below the cost of production. But that is what we are doing. The tariff cannot even cover the cost of production, so issue of profit margin is out of the equation.

It is unfortunate that sometimes we do not learn from what we go through. Until recently, the issue of fuel crisis was a frequent issue until a bold decision was taken to save the economy from grinding to a halt.

Even though prices may go up as the world market dictates, it makes economic sense to avoid a catastrophic situation of depleting our stock of oil.

We should be conscious of the fact that our thermal plants use crude oil to produce power and accordingly the cost of production goes up when the price of crude oil goes up.

Of course, there should be a safety net for the indigent and vulnerable who use power for their domestic activities.

Indeed, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has been conscious of that, and granted lifeline tariffs to the disadvantaged in the lower bracket but somehow the wealthy also enjoy the facility.

We urge those who are managing our power supply and those in the forefront of ensuring that energy is used wisely to be up and doing.

We may also want to ask: What has happened to the $5 million that was approved by Parliament for the purchase of prepaid meters, which would enable the consumer to take charge of the use of power according to his pocket?

When it comes to load shedding, do the planners of the programme consider the implications of shutting down some companies in the day time in the scheme of things?

Are the area mangers and their subordinates making sure that the load-shedding goes on as planned? Is it not being done haphazardly, compelling some workers to call their homes to find out whether there is power outage?

Another question: Has the Energy Foundation sustained its educational campaign to help consumers to use power wisely?

The foundation should not wait for crisis to erupt before intensifying public education on the efficient use of energy.

Are the ministries, departments, and agencies also making wise use of power, especially the use of energy-efficient bulbs or they do not care two hoots because it is the government that would lift the bill?

It is our considered opinion that answers to these questions could be a gauge as to whether we take the energy crisis seriously or otherwise.