Planet powers down at night for Earth Hour

CanWest News Service
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Karen Lapointe and Joey Marrocco hold candles as the lights go out on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Saturday March 27, 2010 to celebrate Earth Hour.  Photo by The Canadian Press

In a prorogation of power on Parliament Hill, the Peace Tower went dark for an hour Saturday night to mark Earth Hour.
Olympic Stadium in Montreal also went dim, although baseball fans of the old Expos probably would say that happened years ago.
When many downtown Edmonton buildings went black at 8:30 p.m. to mark the global power-down event, anyone who hoped to catch a 360-degree view of a darkened skyline of the Alberta capital from tables at the usually-rotating La Ronde restaurant was limited by a lack of motion.
The restaurant at the top of the downtown Chateau Lacombe ceased to rotate for the hour, and lights in the restaurant dimmed as other areas of the hotel, including the front desk, were candlelit. The City of Edmonton said more that 26 buildings downtown went dark when a giant light switch was flicked during festivities at City Hall.
Calgary's revolving restaurant, Sky360, continued to spin atop Calgary Tower. The front of house manager said the restaurant had no plans to participate in Earth Hour.
Organizers at the World Wildlife Fund were hoping as many as one billion people in more than 125 countries would participate in the international effort, including more than 300 Canadian cities. Citizens of the planet were asked to turn off all non-essential power sources starting at 8:30 p.m. local time for a full 60 minutes in a campaign designed to shed some light - by dimming some lights -on the importance of power conservation.
Major landmarks across Asia and in Australia - the country where the tradition began in 2007 - dimmed Saturday, including Sydney's Opera House, Bangkok's Grand Palace and the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The lights were also to go out at the Great Pyramids and Sphinx, on the Las Vegas Strip and at the Acropolis in Athens.
An "unplugged" concert was held in Toronto - where the lights on the iconic CN Tower were to be switched off - featuring Chantal Kreviazuk, Jarvis Church and Justin Nozuka. Another was to take place in Halifax.
In the nation's capital, Parliament Hill joined the list of global landmarks - which also included Paris's Eiffel Tower, New York's Empire State Building and London's Big Ben - in flicking off its light. Ottawa's City Hall, National Arts Centre and Chateau Laurier hotel also were slated to darken.
Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator reported a four per cent drop in demand for electrify in the province as a result of Earth Hour. Last year, the province posted a six per cent drop. The operator said this year's cool temperatures meant a lower overall result.

Calgary, meanwhile, managed only a small drop in power use of just a half a per cent.
"It is a little disappointing," said Doris Kaufmann, a spokeswoman with power provider Enmax Corp. "We would have actually hoped that people would have really gotten on board a little bit more."
At least power consumption didn't go up. Two years ago, the city suffered a public shaming when power use actually rose during the annual eco-friendly event. Consumption that year rose by 3.6 per cent, something officials pinned on cold temperatures. It was the only Canadian city to have power usage increase on the symbolic day.
The city's bad reputation for being energy-hungry was only fuelled, pardon the pun, by the 2.1 per cent jump. "Calgary pigs out during Earth Hour," a Maclean's magazine headline roared.
But some blamed other priorities, namely Canada's national pastime. A Flames-versus-Oilers hockey game took place that fateful night.

On the West Coast, some TV were expected to be tuned to the Canucks' game in San Jose, but darkness was expected to fall at the Telus World of Science, Vancouver City Hall, the legislature buildings in Victoria, the Planetarium, Lions Gate Bridge, and Simon Fraser University.
"Earth Hour is an easy way for each and every one of us to show that we are part of a global movement to fight climate change," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. "It's also about how everyone can cut down on energy consumption every hour."
Cafes and restaurants were being encouraged to let patrons dine by candlelight.
Last year, the reduction in electricity in British Columbia during Earth Hour was 1.1 per cent. In 2008, it was two per cent.
BC Hydro estimated that if everyone who participated in Earth Hour last year did the same thing for an hour everyday, the combined savings would be enough to power 2,400 homes for an entire year.

Organizations: Expos, World Wildlife Fund, Opera House Acropolis Jarvis Church National Arts Centre Chateau Laurier hotel Enmax Maclean's Oilers Canucks Telus World of Science Simon Fraser University BC Hydro

Geographic location: Calgary Tower, Edmonton, Montreal Alberta La Ronde Asia Australia Sydney Bangkok Forbidden Beijing Las Vegas Strip Athens Toronto Halifax Paris New York London Big Ben Ottawa Ontario Canada West Coast San Jose Victoria Vancouver British Columbia

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