When I left New York two weeks ago, much of the US was just beginning to suffer a serious heat wave, which would even take lives, as is not unusual for a severe heat wave in the US. But when I returned to HK, I don’t think the weather was much different. Indeed, in many ways it could be perceived as worse, since the humidity was just so much heavier, and yet I had friends remarking how beautiful the weather was in Hong Kong!
And let’s not get started on the weather of some of our neighbors to the Southeast or Southwest in India, where “heat wave” weather is pretty much a pleasant reprieve! I’m certainly not blaming Americans, who are blessed with 4 distinct seasons in most parts of the country, for not acclimating to the heat, they’re just not used to it. But what this made me wonder is how is it that Hong Kong can provide so much power 24/7 and then some (there is just so much waste of electricty that can easily be observed at any time).
I’m usually absolutely frigid from the extreme AC blasting in my office, and many of the buildings here either leave doors wide open or don’t even have doors, allowing lots of cold air to offer a nice bit of relief to passersby. Even more crazy is how cheap electricity is.
First off, my bills have always been insanely low. According to the Hong Kong Electric Company, which services my neighborhood (there are only two electricity companies in Hong Kong, which serve distinctly different neighborhoods), I pay US 12.07 cents per kWh. According to a table on wikipedia, that’s not the cheapest int he world (Bhutan apparently charges about a penny per kWh), but it’s certainly far from the most expensive — the Solomon Islands (where is that?) charges up to 89c a kWh! However, it turns out that electricy pricing in the US is actually not too far off from Hong Kong, and ranges between 5 to 37 cents per kWh, where the average rate is around 11 cents. So why is it that I haven’t paid an electric bill for up to a year or more?
The government in 2008 rolled out an electricity subsidy, which has continued to be renewed each year since, to “ease inflationary pressure.” Basically, I get about HK$150 a month, and any unused amount is rolled over. So will I ever end up paying for my electric consumption?
This effectively means I have never spent more than US$19 or so on electricity per month. Admittedly, I don’t use much (I am apparently a mad woman, as I only use my AC maybe no more than a dozen times a year in HK!), but this really makes me wonder how Hong Kong does it!
I tried to find some kind of news of a “power outage” or “blackout” in Hong Kong, but none turned up. The only bits I could find on the internet were intentional outages for maintenance. So is Hong Kong doing something right that I don’t know about, or is some kind of energy crisis about to unfold in coming years?