Monday, October 31, 2005

Albania's Energy Problem

I'm here and I'm okay.

Albania is suffering a bit of an energy crisis this year, which is rather unbelievable for if you do an internet search for "Albanian Hydroelectricity" you'll find all sorts of sites which tell you that Albania's most important energy resource is hydroelectricity. 9 out of 10 of the hydro-electric stations in the north are not functioning and won't be. The water reservoir is almost empty. There is no money to buy energy from other countries at the moment. People steal energy and others don't pay their hydro bills. So--- it means long periods of the day without electricity.
Here's an interesting article from May 2005 from the EBRD outlining their strategy for hydroelectricity in Albania. Read it- and weep.
There's a laughable quote from the article:

That the strategy is working is unquestionable.

Oh really??

We've been without power everyday for the past 5 days- anywhere from 3 to 6 hours during the day. I suppose this is the best time to be without it, but living on the 9th floor means walking up 170 stairs (yep P counted them yesterday when he had to walk them twice!). When the power goes, so does the internet, but yesterday when the power came back on, the net did not, and neither did the elevator. Apparently something serious broke in the elevator yesterday when the hydro went off and it couldn't be fixed until this morning. It's now 5pm and someone somewhere finally switched my net back on. I did a bit of begging and the landlord brought a generator up to the apartment to be hooked up tomorrow morning. It's not very big and I have to decide what exactly I want it to power since it can't do everything. And I have to learn how to turn it on-- it has a starter like a motor boat and I'll have to pull the cord to start it. Arggg. Would I sound silly if I said that the first thing that has to be connected to the generator is my computer? Luckily our stove has two electric burners and two gas, so the gas ones work even without hydro of course. I just have to learn how to turn them on without using the starter button.

Can I tell you how much pleasure I get from my Ipod when there's nothing else to do!! I'm so glad I downloaded several books from Audible over the past few months! I sat all afternoon with my feet up by my window, listening to a great book- Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier, while working on my much neglected (and huge) needlepoint. Plus I thought ahead this morning and made a full pot of coffee for my thermos- so I was all set for this inconvenience today! Not only that but I also made certain to have a shower before 8 am because with no electricity there's no water being pumped up to me. I'll beat this problem- I just have to learn to think ahead a bit.

Okay.... enough of my complaining. I have lots of blogs to catch up with now!


ITS said...

argh ... the thirll of living in a developing nation. I feel for you though!

It's very important that you don't let it get to you.

Again, I would recommend that you turn this problem into something postive. As long as the heat is indipendent of your electricty, you will be fine, and I have noticed your fireplace.

I experienced a bit of frustration when I wan in Tirana in the summer, but I quickly managed to find things to do.

There are many things that you can do without electricity. It's important to invest a bit on entertainment equipment that runs on batteries. You already have an iPod. You can also read with powerful battery powered lights. You can buy a little portable DVD-player for movies. A cheap laptop with an extra battery can be a life changer. You can cook with gas. With all those candles around the apt. it might even add an extra spark into your lovelife **wink**


Miss Kim said...

its... you're right about all those things! Like I said -I just have to plan ahead. The most important thing is to be warm and as soon as I figure out how to make a fire things should improve- hahahaha! I'm still smiling :-)

christina said...

My goodness - that's quite the challenge. But you seem to be mastering it bravely and creatively.

J said...

New reader here, I came here from Here in Korea. Quite interesting reading about Albania and I'll definitely be back.

Germany Doesn't Suck

Judith in Umbria said...

Yes, we all know how hard that is. Storms have left me electricitiless for up to 3 days in the US and I had to learn what one could and could not cook in a fireplace.
Italy experienced a nationwide power outage a couple of years ago when a Swiss storm knocked out the lines that carry our purchased power from France. We often have briefer periods of powerlessness.
Still, thank goodness we can count on getting some power sometimes, or we'd all be out pounding the laundry on the rocks.
You need an accenditutto to light your gas! I have gas surface units but an electric oven, so I've learned what you can bake in a dutch oven.
What I don't get is why after decades of hurricanes knocking out power in Florida they haven't buried the lines? It might still go out, but for much briefer periods and poles wouldn't wipe out houses and cars and people.
I've become very interested in Albania and started looking at tourism info the other day. Chissa?

Cynthia Rae said...

170 steps????? You are a better man then I! WOW! Best wishes to you. I guess I won't complain about living on the second floor of our house!

Good luck!

Choco Pie said...

That sounds really hard, especially since you never know when it will happen. It sounds like you are taking it in stride, good for you. It would drive me crazy, but I have a low threshold I guess.

Sparky said...

You have a great Blog here!
Although I've travelled pretty much all over Europe, I have never been to Albania. What brought you there? You never say ;).

AS for how I found you:
My wife and I are over at and loved your comment, so we checked back here and were amazed. We will definitely be back often and add you to our Blogroll!