Viridian Note 00223: Serbian Energy Crisis

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts: Serbia, blackouts, infrastructure damage

Attention Conservation Notice: Blackouts get much, much more press attention if you are Californian.

Link: Bob Morris (^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
^^^^^^^^^^^^^****?) remarks: "The Viridian Contest Repository site now has a Cali Power Crisis page, with more info coming soon."

Sick of boring crisis coverage? Longing for cute, designery Viridian gizmos? Hey, check out that paper computer.

Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL Newsline

"SERBIA FACES ENERGY CRUNCH. Serbia is now undergoing one of the worst energy crises in its history. The reasons for the power crisis are multiple, and they are natural as well as man-made.

"Serbia has experienced insufficient rainfall for the past nine months, which has lowered water levels on the Danube, Drina, and Sava rivers. Low water levels not only hamper hydropower output, but also affect production at thermal electric plants, where water is needed for cooling systems. (((Weird weather patterns screw up hydro-power, but that's just part of it. Droughts also screw up water- cooling systems for fossil-fuel plants and even nuclear plants.)))

"For more than 10 years before, Serbia undertook only minimal investment in energy infrastructure. It also provided cheap, subsidized electric power to its citizens, which hardly encouraged them to cut back consumption. Seventy-eight days of NATO air strikes that targeted Serbia's energy grid also took their toll in 1999. (((It's that long rain of smart-bombs that makes Serbia unique.)))

"Serbia now has to contend as well with Russia's displeasure over its unpaid energy bills. (((You've got to really stretch it to get an "unpaid bill" with Russia; Russian banks are so crooked that most the the time, the Russians can't even tell.))) In addition, the new leaders have recently ended Milosevic's practice of illicitly tapping into the electric power supplies of neighboring countries by abusing the regional electricity grid. (((Now that's utility reform.)))

"All this has produced one of the worst energy crises in the republic's history, and the public is very angry. On 27 December, crowds blocked streets and tram lines in Belgrade to protest the random six-to-10-hour blackouts the authorities have instituted. The next day, two electricity-generating units at a key power plant remained off-line for repairs, causing further blackouts and large traffic jams in Belgrade when traffic lights failed.

"Some Serbs have resorted to the anti-Milosevic protest
tactic of 1997==banging pots and pans. Serbia's Interior
Minister Bozo Prelevic has appealed to them to hold their
protests in places, where as he put it, 'the dignity and
human rights of other people would not be endangered.'

"Serbia's Minister of Mining and Energy Srboljub Antic
says the list of priority facilities==including hospitals,
waterworks, heating plants, and food processing plants==
qualifying for a steady supply of electricity will now be
further limited. But he notes the blackouts will be spread
out evenly."

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