The industry claims that the traditional electric water heater accounts for up to 30 percent of the power bill in the typical household. Some people try to reduce that with a timer or by switching to tankless heaters. In any case, most people know that the electric water heater uses a lot of power, and that replacing it with a relatively inexpensive solar heater would save a significant amount of power.
This is just one of many ways a consumer – the person who pays the Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) bill – reduces the amount of power BPL needs to produce. It may be somewhat simplistic, but imagine every household on the island installing a solar water heater, thereby reducing the amount of power BPL needs to produce by up to 30 percent, significantly more than the current BPL generation shortage.
I have listened with some surprise to a public discourse that blames BPL for not planning for proper supply, but not a word about the refusal of consumers to reduce their own wasteful and excessive consumption. There is no excuse for building a house with a mortgage without a solar water heater. There is no excuse for building mansions all over the island without some partial service solar or wind generator.
The fact is that few people on the island have a right to complain about the failure of BPL’s effort to supply power to consumers who waste their supply. For the past 40 years (since Chuck Hall started selling solar water heaters) we have been begged to use the unlimited supply of sun above as at least one alternative to BPL’s service. We have found excuse after excuse. Now we are impatient with BPL’s excuses.
The bottom line is this. If you borrow money to buy a car, go on vacation, buy new furniture or add a swimming pool, you should borrow money to reduce your consumption of public utility energy. Bankers who lend money to buy a car but find excuses to refuse a loan for a solar system should be publicly disgraced. Successive governments have at least made equipment less expensive by reducing or eliminating duties, so there is really no excuse.
BPL may well be criticized for not having or sharing a 30-year plan for power generation, as they should, but consumers that refuse to do their part to reduce the amount of power needed cannot complain with a straight face. The welfare of the country is the responsibility of each citizen, and the efficiency of its infrastructure is part of that responsibility. The producers are not the only ones who should respect that responsibility. The consumers of that power should live up to their responsibility as well.
I’m afraid I have to cut this short. The power may go off and I may lose the article. I’m as guilty as everybody else, I don’t have a solar system either.
• Patrick Rahming & Associates is a full-service design firm providing architectural, planning and design services throughout The Bahamas and the northern Caribbean. Visit its website at www.pradesigns.com, design blog at https://rahmblings.wordpress.com and like its Facebook page. The firm can be contacted by phone at 356-9080 or by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm’s mission is to help clients turn their design problems into completed projects through a process of guided decision-making, responsible environmental advice and expert project administration.