News Views: Lights out

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows saw a slight drop in energy consumption, but less than what they achieved last year.

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows didn’t exactly go dark Saturday during Earth Hour.

Both saw a slight drop in energy consumption between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., and both were better than the provincial average, but less than what they achieved last year.

Pitt Meadows saw just a 2.4 per cent drop this year – despite a neighbourhood parade – compared to a 5.7 per cent reduction in 2011, when it was tops in the province.

Maple Ridge, meanwhile, showed a 1.8 per cent drop in electricity consumption Saturday, lower than the 3.9 per cent reduction it logged last year.

B.C., as a whole, cut power use by 1.67 per cent, saving 121 megawatt hours of electricity – the equivalent of turning off nine million 12.5-watt LED light bulbs.

That’s all admirable, and good for the earth, which is the point of the global event – to commit to lasting action on climate change.

So why did so few people around the province turn off their lights this year?

Bowen Island was the best, with a 3.5 per cent reduction. Langley, on the other hand, saw a reduction of just 0.5 per cent – lowest in B.C.

Maybe Earth Hour, in its current incarnation, has served it’s purpose. Some folks took part the first time, others the second, more the third.

Now, five years in, fewer people leave lights on after they leave a room. They shut down their computers and turn off their monitors when they are done with them. They unplug the coffee maker after making a cup. They are more aware of energy consumption.

And some, after a week of work, have better things to do on a Saturday night than sit in the dark for an hour and play the role of responsible person.

Education around energy conservation should continue, especially in schools.

But a B.C. Hydro rate increase, like the one of  seven per cent that took effect Sunday, will do far more to turn off lights than Earth Hour ever will.

– The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News