Just thinking out loud: What if governments put up displays showing the real-time status of the energy demand and supply of a certain city or province? The energy ministries can get the information from the utility companies or electric cooperatives covering the area. I just thought that a real-time display, coupled with well-timed live TV or Web statements from the president or the energy minister, will create immediate feedback from residents, because they will be able to see the updated condition of the electricity supply. They will, in addition, have a visual peg of the impact of their energy conservation efforts, be it switching off lights, increasing the AC’s temperature or turning off electric fans that are not in use, to the power demand.
The displays can be placed in central areas around the city, or broadcast live on TV or over the Web. This ubiquitous presence will ensure that everyone will be informed of the current energy scenario, which will thus encourage empathy and participation.
See, I believe that this effort will foster teamwork, cooperation and camaraderie among compatriots. Imagine: For the first time, people will be able to immediately see the contribution of their small acts of energy conservation to the larger good of the society. For instance, when they see that their actions positively affect the trajectory of the energy demand, they will be urged to respond in more ways, and even persuade their neighbors and friends to do the same. As their collective efforts begin to dramatically affect the demand and supply curve, poeple will be more stimulated to use every available communication tools to spread the word of energy saving. I envision that #SaveEnergy will be a staple trending topic on Twitter, and screen shots of the real-time display will populate most of Facebook posts. I also imagine that people will take more selfies with the display on the background, particularly if a city or a province becomes successful in keeping the energy demand below the supply curve. I visualize that people will begin to treat energy conservation as a friendly competition among cities or provinces, where the area that has limited its electricity consumption at the lowest will win….
But of course, this is what I imagine, and I do not know if this will ever happen. In the meantime, the governments and utility companies may be able to benefit from boosting the energy supply of areas where load shedding may be apparent. There are alternative sources of energy that they can tap, like renewable sources or rental power plants. But whatever solution the governments or utilities will decide on employing, I hope that it can be immediately deployed to concerned areas wherever they may be and remain reliable throughout the season of high energy demand. I also wish that they are cost-effective and are able to supply the precise amount of electricity needed by the customers.
Load shedding, power outages and blackouts are no laughing matters. I may have imagined solving them through a game of some sort, but they have serious consequences to the viability of businesses and to the quality of life of people.
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