Powerful option

Published: Tuesday 15 April 1997

One of the principal barriers to providing electricity to low-income households is the high cost of connection and wiring of the house. Also, as power meters are expensive to instal, the users are not able to keep an account of the electricity consumed by them and often end up using far more than they can afford. Besides, the utilities (and governments) committed to providing electricity have introduced technical solutions to the problem, thereby greatly increasing the connection rate in poor households. Miniature circuit breakers (MCBs), which are cheap, have thus appeared as a favourable alternative. A MCB can be fitted in each house and if more than a pre-set amount of electricity is used, the circuit breaks. Utilities can offer their customers a range of load limits -- 25W, 50W or 250W -- and the customer can pay a flat fee per month, to overcome the problem of costs ( Appropriate Technology , Vol 23, No 3).

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