ENERGY MANAGEMENT: YOUR ROLE AS A CONSUMER

So, in the last 12 months, I have observed the minimalist ideology making the rounds on social media. And this has largely been centered around finance management. Nigerians have been encouraging themselves to live within their means and not bite more than they can chew. Catch phrases like “There’s rice at home”, “Not every time Pepsi, drink water!”, etc, have become quite popular. This minimalist ideology has extended further with more Nigerians being encouraged to cultivate a healthy saving culture — step forward Cowrywise and Piggyvest.

Primarily, the minimalist ideology caters for two things:

  • Reduce wastage (unnecessary expense)
  • Save money (Money which can be used to intelligently invest and make more money)

Something I find interesting about the above principle(s) is that: it is not unique to finance management. It is very much applicable in other systems like Energy/Electricity Management — Something I want to talk about. In a post published in December, I mentioned I was going to talk about this, and my goal is to make this post as simple as reciting our beloved alphabets, with a gentle sprinkle of technical terms.

Before a family can get power in its home, a power chain that starts from the generating station and ends with the consumer, must have been completed. Usually, this is what the power chain looks like: Generation Stage — -> Transmission Stage — -> Distribution Stage — -> Consumer. In an ideal world, where this chain is present, we should all have power in our homes every minute of our lives, but sadly we do not live in an ideal world.

The Nigeria electricity grid is currently reported to be generating approximately 5,000 megawatts(MW) of electricity. And this is what is being strenuously distributed within a country with over 150 million people living in it. Compare with what South Africa, a country with less than 70million people, reportedly generates — 34,000MW of electricity. I digress.

Now, I want you to see this 5,000MW as income (or revenue generated) that needs to be efficiently distributed and managed across several sectors, bills, and expenses. In this case, consumers are the bills, consumers are the expenses. And just as bills and expenses need to be properly managed (to prevent wastage as well as maximize resources), electricity consumers also need to be managed. So, before (and during the time) electricity is delivered to consumers, Energy/Electricity Management is already seriously being implemented. I mean, 5,000MW is bad enough, imagine if it is not managed at all.

WHY YOU DO NOT HAVE ELECTRICITY EVERY DAY.

The process of Energy/Electricity Management (in Nigeria) means that consumers will often find themselves without power. I remember growing up and visualizing the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) officials as evil people, any time power was interrupted; especially when I was seeing a football game or a very interesting TV show. It often felt like they were wicked souls without a heart, and had a giant monitor where they monitored the TV shows we were watching. Unbeknownst to me, these people were only doing their jobs, and protecting a seemingly fragile distribution network.

Often, whenever power is interrupted, the basic economic principles of opportunity cost, demand and supply are usually at play. A distribution station with 800MW will be unable to deliver a load capacity that is more than 800MW. It is as simple as “you can’t give what you do not have”. Here’s a scenario to help:

Ikeja Electricity Distribution(IKEDC) decided to commit 200MW (supply) to feed the Egbeda community that has a load (demand) of 190MW, across several homes and companies, within that community. For all the people of Egbeda to continue enjoying power, two rules must always be present:

  • Supply must not be less than 200MW
  • Demand must not be higher than 190MW

The moment IKEDC discovers that one of the above is absent, it begins to take measures to sustain the initial supply and demand balance. One rapid measure IKEDC will take to sustain that balance is what is known as Load Shedding. Here, officials of IKEDC consciously and strategically switch off feeders or breakers of certain residential homes or companies within the community.

WHAT’S MY ROLE (AS A CONSUMER) IN ENERGY/ELECTRICITY MANAGEMENT

For the homes/companies in Egbeda that will be affected by IKEDC’s continuous load shedding measures to sustain balance, there will be an impulse to query IKEDC’s incompetence, but the reality is: sometimes, consumers’ carelessness with use and installation of electrical appliances play key roles in why, at least, one of the two rules can be violated. Invariably, when further investigations are done, we can sometimes see that because of customer A’s careless use and installation of electrical appliances, customer B had to be cut off, until balance is restored.

While the entire generation, transmission and distribution companies have their (major) role(s) to play in Energy/Electricity Management, consumers do have their roles to play, and such roles shouldn’t be underestimated.

There are multiple important techniques a consumer can take to manage supplied energy, but here are three basic ones:

  • Use Energy Saving Appliances: When purchasing electrical appliances for your home, be intentional about the kind of material you’re purchasing. Intentionally look out for energy saving appliances. E.g: The lighting in your homes/offices should be filled with energy saving lamps or LEDs, and not incandescent (yellow) lamps. Your regular LEDs do more, by providing better luminosity, and are more cost effective than incandescent lamps. Below is an image depicting comparisons between LED lamps and incandescent lamps. Take your time, study it and make your deductions.
A table showing the comparison between Incandescent, CFL and LED Lamps
A table showing the comparison between Incandescent, CFL and LED Lamps
  • Switch off dormant Appliances: I know you paid money for the electricity you’re using, I know you paid money for the appliances you are using, but please switch them off when you don’t need them. E.g: During the day time, you do not necessarily need your light bulbs to be on. There’s enough illumination for you to work and move around with. Also, there are occasions where your electric fans will do; your air conditioners don’t necessarily have to be on to cool your environment. I promise you, you won’t die.
  • Get An Energy Consumption Meter: “Men and Women Lie, Numbers don’t”. An energy consumption meter will help you visualize the amount of energy you regularly consume. This can be akin to a finance tracking system(FTS) you create for yourself. With your FTS, you can see where your money is going and make decisions on how to manage your finances. Same is applicable with the Energy Consumption Meter.

Whether you(a private individual or an enterprise) rely on Distribution Companies (DisCos) for electricity supply, or you generate electricity (via fossil fuel generators or renewable energy sources) for your consumption, the compound economical and environmental effect of being faithful with these basic techniques is astronomical. If you track how much energy you regularly consume, and faithfully implement these basic techniques (and more), I promise you, you will gradually feel the effects in your pockets.

There remains much more to be said on this subject matter, but I refuse to bore you any further. I hope this helped you in some way.

Nigeria is very far away from a decent power sector, no thanks to the multiple political shenanigans that have played out over the years, but we shouldn’t be deterred from playing our respective roles in Energy Management. I sincerely hope that at the end of this decade, there will be unquestionable improvement in energy generation and distribution in the country.

Note:

  • Energy Management occurs across the entire value chain of power. Starting from production to consumption.
  • The practice of Energy Management is not restricted to Nations with a deficient power sector, like Nigeria. Developed Nations with healthy and thriving power sectors practice and advocate for healthy Energy Management techniques.
  • Sometimes, you do not have power supply because you refuse to pay your electricity bills. Pay your bills.
  • Businesses, Enterprises, Start-ups, SMEs, should not trivialize the need for Energy Management within their organization. Some of them needlessly spend exorbitant sum of money to get steady power supply. I recommend they strategically invest in Energy Management, get professional Energy auditors that will efficiently give account of their Energy demands and proffer optimization techniques to meet these demands. This investment will potentially help them reduce running and operational costs. With this, money is saved, and can be used for productive processes that can grow the enterprise.

Name: Eto Profession: Lazy Nigerian Youth. Status: Child of God. Pizz Out. https://tinyurl.com/yah623gd