Archive for January 4th, 2010

Thinking aloud: Do the electricty restrictions in shopping centers make any sense?

January 4, 2010

The more I talk to people, the more I am convinced that the recently announced measures to shut down Malls and shopping centers make little sense. I wished I knew more about the subject to talk with some authority, but maybe readers can point out the flaws in my thinking:

1) From what I have been able to read on the web, electricity usage goes up in the morning, reaches a plateau/peak around 11-11:30 AM and starts dropping after 7 PM. Thus, the restrictions seem to be attacking the slower periods of the day, not the peak periods. Since most power is hydroelectric, it can’t be shut down completely, so you want to concentrate on the peaks.

2) Except for the savings associated with the one hour shutdown of the stores from 10 AM to 11 AM, the morning shut down will simply make life harder for those that work in offices within malls. Given that food places will be shut down, people will find the nearest bakery, cafe or whatever. These places will consume more power to make the additional bread/pastry/coffee, there will be some savings on air conditioning and lights, but not in the electricity used to make the products. Since parking lots will still be open for office worlers and the like, there will be no saving in lighting. Banks, drugstores and the like in Malls will force people to go elsewhere, but the air conditioning in the banks will not be shut down. Sure, lights will be out, so what.

3) Restaurants and movie theaters will now be shut down, but this will happen at the hours that electricity usage in the country drops sharply, just after 8PM-8:30 PM. Does this really produce savings?

4) The crisis should hopefully ease by the time the next rainy season comes around. If a Mall or shopping center buys an electric plant, it will be in place by the time the crisis eases, thus it will only be useful for the next crisis, which will come anyway, but it is a wasteful investment.

5) What is and isn’t a shopping center? The definition is not clear so that merchants are applying it uniformly: they are all shutting down when more than a couple of businesses or stores is housed in the same building, whether strip mall or shopping center. This is in the end extremely discriminatory, as stand alone restaurants, bars, discos, drugstores and whatevers will benefit from the excess new clientele without having done much to get it. This will make some people rich, but will drive others to bankruptcy.

6) This will have an important economic impact. My office is at a Mall where restaurants will not even bother to open at night, movie theaters will cut hours and cab drivers plan to eliminate one shift. This implies less economic activity and things looked bad before this silly measures. Like the ostrich, the Minister of Electricity “rejects this possibility” which only goes to show the stupidity of the revolution and its revolutionaries. They reject capitalism and seem to promote a strategy of less for everyone. This is absolutely stupid. Of course, the Chavez-filled National Assembly rather than look at all these real problems will look into whether Colombia is or not creating Chavez “False Positive” chimera.

This is no democracy, this is a pantomime of what a country is supposed to be.