Sunday, April 09, 2006

Iran May Rue Price of Decision to End Daylight Saving

Marc Wolfensberger, Bloomberg:
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's decision to abandon the country's annual switch to daylight saving time for the first time in 15 years might cost the Islamic republic as much as 3 trillion rials (R2 billion) in extra energy consumption, a ministry of energy official said this week.

The presidential cabinet on March 19 unexpectedly cancelled the time switch, which used to push clocks forward by an hour for a six-month period each spring.

It cited a lack of evidence that the switch reduced energy consumption. This programme, in place in about 70 countries worldwide, including most of Iran's neighbours, aims to save energy by making the most use of daylight.

"This decision was taken by the cabinet without consulting experts from the energy ministry," the Iranian Student News Agency quoted Alireza Shirani, a research deputy at the ministry of energy, as saying. The government could still reverse the decision, he said. READ MORE

The cancellation of the time switch was the latest popular measure adopted by the Iranian president, who won last year's election after pledging to redistribute the country's oil wealth to the people.

In February, Ahmadinejad opposed a cut in subsidies on petrol and basic commodities as it could create "instability".

Iran spent $25 billion (R150 billion) on subsidies last year.

Changing clocks, which was introduced in 1991, caused some confusion, mainly among the rural community as well as for the timing of the prayers.

Ehsan Jahandideh, the head of the presidential office's media affairs, said avoiding confusion for the country's 20 million rural inhabitants, who live in accordance with sunrise and sunset, was an added motivation for the government's decision.

Jahandideh put the lack of evidence of energy savings first on the president's justification list.

"Time change in our case doesn't have much impact on energy consumption," he said. Days in Iran were naturally longer in summer, he said.