Electricity in the Jungle
I enjoy the winters in Thailand and this year the cool season was fantastic. It lasted about two weeks. Yes, Thailand does get hot. Personally, I turn on the air conditioner most evenings. However, most of the rural Thais that live near me do not own an AC and they can live in some of the hottest abodes with some of the smallest fans.
Until a couple of weeks ago, a 72-year old lady had lived here for the past five years and since her electrical bill was less than B250 or $3, it was free. Which was good as she had next to nothing. Apparently, she wanted to live in this tin shed alone, instead of staying with her daughter in the house across the road. Sadly, she was recently found dead one morning by her sister.
In 1897, a Thai and an American established the Bangkok Electric Light Syndicate that generated and sold electricity to customers in Bangkok.
In 1967 my wife was born in a rural farming community in central Thailand. Electricity was not available so many people used oil lamps. Mostly, homemade contraptions as store bought ones were too expensive. Her family did not have electricity until she was six years old.
We took this old oil lamp and converted it to electricity.
In 2006 while on an excursion through a remote area of Thailand, I noticed that many homes still did not have electricity. And in some villages there was a single electrical wire that people would share between houses.
In 2017, I met Pang-Ung at Pala Coffee in northern Thailand. Now in his 60s, he still works at his resort every day. During his 20s, he and his wife worked planting trees on hillsides for less than a dollar a day. They finally got electricity about a year ago.
In 2018 the electricity in Thailand costs per unit about what it does in the states. I spend on average about B4000 or $125 per month running the usual household appliances plus the AC at night. One of my Canadian friends spends at least $400 a month to keep his entire house cooled down. 24/7. Electricity comes from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and the Provincial Electric Authority (PEA). This government enterprise has oil-fired plants scattered throughout but is slowly converting to natural gas.
The maximum voltage of electrical appliances in Thailand is 220 volts. Two prong power outlets are typically used and not earthed. Grounding can be done, but it costs more money. It is fairly common to read in the Bangkok Post about someone being electrocuted when water mixes with electricity.
Thailand has some serious storms. Heavy rain and strong winds can create havoc. But surprisingly, the electricity doesn’t go out for long.
The EGAT big boys in Bangkok and the
local PEA workers in the provinces
try their best.
These lineman average around B250 an hour. That is $7.80. This job is considered a well-paying position plus these skilled workers get to share in the companies profits.
Thailand also has many amateur electricians. Some better than others.
Repairing the pedestrian crosswalk.
And as with most projects in Thailand, there are hiccups...