Wednesday, November 27, 2013

“We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.” ― Thomas A. Edison

I don't think Mr. Edison ever lived in a developing country.  Electricity here is not cheap and only the poor burn candles.  In addition, the electric power is only available to about 14% of the population and even then it is not constant or trustworthy.  Right now, the entire country of Tanzania is undergoing ten days of rolling power outages--a day or two at a time in different parts of the country.  When we first moved here in 2005, the whole country went through six months of the power turning off at dawn and turning back on at dusk.  Even when the current is flowing, it is susceptible to spikes and surges that can fry most electronic equipment, so many, many circuit breakers are necessary.  Thankfully, well thanks to Mike Flanagan, we have a very reliable generator that will run almost the whole compound except for things that generate heat like hot water heaters, electric stoves, hair dryers, etc.  The generator can be seen in its little house in the picture at right.  It has an electric start and a hand crank if the battery is dead, but when it is running, it charges the battery.  Sadly, it doesn't come on automatically, so trips in pouring rain in the middle of night are sometimes necessary, but it keeps the refrigerator and our computers running.  It is fairly quiet compared to most, but I'm sure it still bothers the neighbors.  It also eats up petrol (gasoline) at about $30 a day when it's running.  Yet, we feel so blessed that we have it (thank you again Mike Flanagan--we even call it "little Mikey").  Still, as our power costs continue to increase we are looking to do much more with solar power.  It has been too pricy so far, but prices have been coming down.  We will have to buy a new refrigerator that runs on 12 volts, but getting off the national power grid will be so nice.  We have missionary friends that are all solar, and we are envious.  One day, maybe by next summer, we will have made the switch.  In the meantime, I will take issue with the quote by Mr. Edison above.  Here, only the rich have electricity but there are solar projects making entire villages solar powered and it is the people doing that that we are going to use to help us with our solar project.  Thanks to the generator we can praise the lord that we see the light.
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