Powering down

6 11 2011

The power supply in Zimbabwe is erratic at the best of times but during the rains (which is also the storm season) it gets particularly bad. There was a storm some distance away over town yesterday afternoon and the power went off. It came back on for about 5 minutes, went off for half and hour and came back on again at a low voltage. My fridge and deep freeze have low voltage cutouts to protect the motors from such eventualities and are still off as I type this on a battery powered laptop.

Where I live we generally have quite reliable power, probably due to a military baracks on the same grid (can’t annoy them can we?), so I have not bothered with a generator or inverter and battery. My solution to the occasional power outage is decidedly low tech; I have a frozen 20 litre container of water in the deep freeze and perishables from the fridge go in there for as long as necessary.

The nursery is also on the same power grid but I don’t have voltage protection on all the motors so I dashed in this morning at 7 a.m. but all was well so the problem at my house is localized. It is unlikely to be fixed today so I will just have to live with it until tomorrow. Zimbabwe’s power situation is far more long term. I was recently sent an email circulated by the chairman of ZESA, Stuart Maasdorp. It is the first time that I have seen the issues facing the national power generating company clearly laid out. In short we are going to have major disruptions for at least the next 4 years and will just have to make a plan. In the meantime they have put power costs up some 40%. I have yet to see a statement to this effect, this was passed onto me by my landlord. That is not however an excuse not to pay into my account what I think I should be paying. The utility can still cut off the supply even though I have not seen the statement for the last 6 months! To get a clear picture of what I owe I will have to go into the ZESA office in town. Even then it is unlikely to be up to date and the meter is not read very often – they tend to rely on estimates.

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One response

7 11 2011
Big Blister

It usually takes bigger storms or ice storms here to cut the power, but the effects can be rough. The longest I’ve been without power was 5 days due to an ice storm. Cooked in the fireplace and slept on the sofa in a down sleeping bag, with a dog and a cat for supplemental warmth!

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