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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Guelph Voluntarily blacks out for Earth Hour

It's that time of year again... Now that the weather's warmer, it's a fine time to power down the house for an evening. What do I mean? Why it's time for Earth Hour, of course. On Saturday March 27th, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time, the World Wildlife Fund is challenging we passengers on spaceship Earth to power down all non-essential electronic doodahs and enjoy the silence (and the darkness) and show solidarity for energy conservation and fighting global climate change.

The City of Guelph (as a political entity and not just the collective efforts of the populace) will lead the way by turning off the lights in all non-essential city facilities. Here's the press releases:

GUELPH, ON, March 17, 2010 – Guelph residents and businesses are encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27 as part of the third annual Earth Hour campaign. Guelph has joined over 172 Canadian cities taking part in the global effort to raise awareness about energy conservation and climate change.

“Turning out the lights for Earth Hour is a symbolic gesture, but it is a good opportunity for us to reflect on how our quality of life is impacted by our use of energy and the importance of using energy wisely,” says Mayor Karen Farbridge.

Guelph Hydro Electric Systems Inc. will monitor Saturday evening’s energy consumption to determine Guelph’s energy savings. In 2009, Guelph lowered energy consumption by three per cent during the event.

City facilities, including City Hall, will be dark during Earth Hour, and only essential lighting will be left on for certain 24-hour operations. Computers, monitors and printers will be turned off and thermostat settings in City facilities will be reduced or completely turned off.

“Many of these conservation measures are in place every day, and we’re upgrading facilities to save even more energy,” says Energy Conservation Project Manager, Prashant Bhalja. “This year we expect to reduce our energy consumption by 2,022,306 equivalent kilowatt hours and prevent 592,536 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions.”

In addition to annual savings between $100,000 and $104,000, the City has secured $114,000 in energy incentives from Natural Resources Canada, Union Gas and Guelph Hydro, and will save another $406,500 by purchasing electricity at lower, off-peak prices. This year, Guelph’s energy conservation and procurement programs will save the City about $624,500.

“We’re serious about saving energy,” adds Bhalja. "A number of upgrades are underway this year including solar water heating systems at the River Run Centre, Transit facility and Fire Department Headquarters; new heating and lighting systems at the Evergreen Seniors Centre; and lighting upgrades at the West End Community Centre and Guelph Public Library main branch.”

Already, partners like Guelph Hydro, Union Gas, the University of Guelph and the Chamber of Commerce are committed to creating a healthy energy future, and integrating sustainable energy solutions into the City’s plans for growth through the Community Energy Plan.

Earth Hour is an easy way for the community to get involved in Guelph’s energy conservation efforts. Residents can visit guelph.ca/earthhour to register for the event, find conservation tips, share their ideas and pledge their support as part of the National Earth Hour campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

As much as I enjoyed reading the Mayor's comment noting Earth Hour as a "symbolic gesture" I think the event does have a purpose. Although a part of me still thinks that the fight against Global Warming is well past the point where "symbolic gestures" are useful, one can't deny that when something affects enough people, they start to look at a situation and demand serious consideration:

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It seems that in the last couple of years, amongst all the recession and depression making economic talk, the environment's been lost in the shuffle, and our own Federal Government's been none-too-interested in raising the topic by the themselves. Which is why this year, between 8:30 and 9:30 on Saturday March 27th, I'll be reading a good book by candlelight.

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