Earth Hour reduces energy consumption

Red Deer residents flipped off switches and saved enough power during Earth Hour to run the city’s traffic lights for five days — or take four cars off the road for a year.

Red Deer residents flipped off switches and saved enough power during Earth Hour to run the city’s traffic lights for five days — or take four cars off the road for a year.

“It’s very, very encouraging to see the number of customers who responded to Earth Hour on Saturday,” said the City of Red Deer Electric Light and Power Department manager Ligong Gan.

While it’s hard to gauge how many local households and businesses reduced electrical consumption between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., Gan estimated it was thousands.

The local effort lowered electrical consumption by 2.5 per cent within city limits — an improvement from last year’s 1.8 per cent. This savings of 8,800 kilowatt hours of electricity put 16 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air — the equivalent of what four cars would produce in a year, said Gan.

The 2.5 per cent reduction is even more of an achievement when considering that about 60 per cent of the city’s overall power load is “fixed.” This means it can’t be reduced because it powers essential services, such as street and traffic lights, furnaces, stoves and fridges for homes and businesses, said Gan.

The City of Red Deer signed on as an Earth Hour participant to set an example for the public. Red Deer’s City Hall and other city buildings were left largely in the dark Saturday evening. The Collicutt Centre shut off or dimmed all non-essential lights, as did the new civic works yard.

Gan intends to see if some of these measures can be adopted routinely. He also hopes all city residents will incorporate energy conservation into their everyday lives.

“It’s about taking small steps,” said Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling, who was glad so many people took part in the “collective commitment to our . . . future.”

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com