Mar 22, 2009

Dark energy

After a brief respite during January and February, loadshedding is once again with us, and with quite a bang. Our supply of electricity once again becomes hypothetical in much the same way as Dark Matter and its close friend Dark Energy, which is thought to make up as much as 96 per cent of the entire universe; are. We cannot see or measure either because they are hypothesized forms of matter-particle that do not reflect or emit electromagnetic radiation. We therefore have to infer the existence of dark matter and energy from their gravitational effects on visible matter, such as stars and galaxies. Pakistani electricity, perhaps unique in the entire cosmos, is much the same in terms of its physical properties Ð we know it’s there we just can’t see it and we measure its effects as a negative value.The power problem is a Musharraf legacy item, and one that was always going to be a tough nut to crack. The problem is that it is not a single problem but a complex weave of infrastructure deficit, poor management, circular debt and provincial rivalry to name but a few of the factors involved. Solving it is a bit like herding cats Ð just when you think you have got them all moving in a single direction one of them makes a break for it and you have to start all over again. Hitherto, no government has comprehensively addressed the power needs of a rapidly urbanizing society that is wedded to rampant consumerism and the profligate use of scarce resources. Efforts to persuade the population and city managers to limit power usage have failed miserably. Huge billboards blaze into the night and streetlights, which should be lit alternately, are not. Those that can afford air-conditioners naturally want to turn them on as the weather heats up. The vicious circle tightens every year. Our power-generating and management agencies at last seem to be getting to grips with things. A PEPCO spokesman said on March 19 that loadshedding will be a thing of the past by December of this year, going on to say that power production has increased in the last fiscal, the circular debt problem is moving towards resolution via a complex re-financing arrangement and the perennial ‘good news’ will shortly be announced. The upcoming period of loadshedding is part of an annual cycle and is ‘normal’ (he said). Normal or not we face months of our electrical appliances once again being powered by Dark Matter producing Dark Energy which in turn floods us all with Dark Light.

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