Powerless in Georgia

By Almond, Mark | New Statesman (1996), August 25, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Powerless in Georgia

Almond, Mark, New Statesman (1996)

"Total blackout in Georgia" was the news agency headline earlier this month. But this wasn't Jimmy Carter's Georgia in the Deep South. It was Eduard Shevardnadze's home state south of the Caucasus.

Power cuts in the Republic of Georgia don't usually raise eyebrows there or anywhere else. For more than a decade, the country has been de-industrialising and learning to live with firewood or diesel generators brought in from Turkey. But Georgia's lack of electricity is down to much the same reasons as New York's, even though its problems are less publicised than the latter's power cuts.

The promotion of energy privatisation around the globe has been a key goal of the past three US administrations. For post-communist states, there is a sharp correlation between getting good marks in the State Department's assessment of your human rights record and selling utilities to US companies. Georgia, for instance, sold its Soviet-era Telasi generating company to AES Corporation, the energy giant based round the corner from the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. AES also bought that mastodon of our own grid, Drax in North Yorkshire.

AES has now gone bust because it has found that the economic policies which go with privatisation hugely reduce demand for electricity. In Britain, energy-hungry metal-bashing plants have virtually disappeared without air-conditioning taking up the slack, as it does on the other side of the Atlantic. In Georgia, nearly all industry has collapsed and the mass unemployment shafted AES's projected profits.

Yet the company cut off 70 per cent of the population from the grid from the start. Sadly, even the cruellest approach to nonpayment couldn't find enough Georgians able to pay up, so AES's investment went down the tubes.

Its investments in Georgia or Drax had one thing in common--they were not investments in the real meaning of the word (the purchase of new technology), just one-off payments to get control of a supposed Milchkuh.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Powerless in Georgia


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?