Officials at the Las Vegas Valley’s local electric utility credit Earth Hour for a noticeable drop in power use Saturday night.
Energy consumption valleywide dropped roughly 3 percent below Nevada Power Co.’s typical Saturday evening load, said Adam Grant, a spokesman for the utility’s parent company, NV Energy.
“We’re assuming (the demand dropoff) is because of Earth Hour,” Grant said.
He added that it’s difficult to determine how much of the decline in power use happened on the Strip, where virtually every hotel-casino powered down its exterior lights, and how much of it might have come from conservation-minded residents tamping down the lights at home. The company doesn’t differentiate between use along the resort corridor and residential consumption.
Of course, saving energy wasn’t the goal of Earth Hour, according to the event’s organizers at the World Wildlife Fund.
Rather, the idea was to call attention to climate change and let policymakers know the people mean business on the issue.
Well, some people mean business.
Outside Las Vegas, participation was decidedly mixed.
The Arizona Republic reported that residents of the Grand Canyon State “largely shrugged off” Earth Hour, with little or no change in energy use reported by utilities there on Saturday night. It was a departure from 2008’s Earth Hour, when residents pared 20 megawatts from their power use, the newspaper said.
Experts in Arizona speculated that the falloff in participation could have come because Phoenix wasn’t a key participant in 2009, the way it was in 2008’s Earth Hour event. The Arizona Republic also noted that it cost $3,000 in overtime in 2008 for city of Phoenix employees to “run around and shut off lights” for the event.
The World Wildlife Fund declared Las Vegas a flagship city for Earth Hour 2009, and enlisted the help and support of big resort operators and public officials including Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.
Mass participation was spotty in other states and cities, too.
Though New York’s Broadway darkened its lights, a host of other landmarks, including Times Square, stayed well-lit.
And Roger Sowell, a California attorney who practices environmental and energy law, compared power-use charts from the California Independent System Operator and determined that Earth Hour had no effect on power consumption in California. Data from the system operator, which distributes power across the Golden State, showed “no apparent decrease” in power load statewide from 8:30 to 9:30 Saturday night.
Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at email@example.com or 702-380-4512.