EARTH HOUR – Switching off could yield big prize

Turn off lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday

A lights-out challenge that has municipalities competing head-to-head, now has more riding on the win.

Since it was first introduced four years ago in Sydney, Aust., Earth Hour has prompted households, businesses and governments around the globe to pull the plug on non-essential indoor and outdoor lights, and electrical appliances for one hour, all in the combat of climate change.

Last year’s competition included a friendly local community competition initiated by Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff to see which Kootenay community had the most residents participating in the energy-saving cause.

While Saturday’s Earth Hour competition now includes FortisBC communities from the Okanagan to Creston and north to the Slocan Valley, the community with the most pledges from participating residents will win $5,000 in energy upgrades to a non-profit organization. For Trail this means a much-needed boost for the Trail Family and Individual Resource Centre Society, Rossland’s banking on an upgrade for the Rossland and District Museum Society and Fruitvale and Montrose have joined forces in hopes of giving to the Beaver Valley Seniors Manor.

Trail may look a little different when some of the city’s facilities power out for an hour, including the arena.

“It shows we are also contributing to Earth Hour and we know that conserving energy is an important part of that,” said Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs.

Following the same conscious philosophy, the city has also upgraded its facilities with some motion-sensitive lighting that only turns on when someone walks into a room.

Residents are encouraged to flick the switch and spend an hour in the dark from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday. But before the hour arrives, locals are encouraged to go online to pledge in support of their community.

Taking the pledge can be done by visiting www.fortisbc.com, navigating to “electricity” and through “power sense” to “in your community.” Click on “Earth Hour” and follow the link to “take the pledge.”

The winning community will be determined based on the number of pledges received based on its population.  The winning community will be determined based on the number of pledges received per community based on its population.  A community is entered automatically when a pledge is completed at www.fortisbc.com/Electricity/PowerSense/InYourCommunity/EarthHour

Last year, FortisBC customers from 32 different communities pledged support for Earth Hour and helped save more than six megawatts of electricity during the event, which is equivalent to 106,000 lights.

While that number alone is impressive, the power-saving initiative is a worldwide event that will likely result in more than 92 countries turning their lights off.