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Pemberton is Sea to Sky’s Earth Hour champion

Whistler energy consumption actually increases 1.1 per cent

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And the award for biggest energy saver in Sea to Sky during Earth Hour goes to... Pemberton!

Spud Valley initially took the award for biggest energy saver in the province before B.C. Hydro revised its calculations and discovered that Sooke had, in fact, saved the most during the March 28 Earth Hour with a 4.8 per cent drop in consumption.

Pemberton, however, recorded a 4.6 per cent drop in consumption, putting it above 24 other communities and well above anywhere else in Sea to Sky, according to B.C. Hydro.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy credited the drop in consumption to the community itself and took no responsibility at the governing level for the energy saving.

"I think it's really because the community is sensitive to the issue," he said. "It wasn't a government initiative that made this happen, it was the community just, I think, reacted and did what they felt was the right thing to be doing and participated."

Earth Hour is an international event that asks people in participating countries to turn off their lights for a single hour. Turning your lights off is a vote for Earth, according to the Earth Hour website, which is administered by the World Wildlife Fund. Leaving them on is a vote for global warming.

The event began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned off their lights for a single hour. Fifty million people turned out their lights for Earth Hour in 2008. Some of the landmarks that went dark last year included San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

The eventual goal is to have 1 billion votes in favour of the Earth. It's expected that this year's Earth Hour results will be presented to the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark later this year, an event that will be key in determining participating governments' policies on global warming.

Closer to home, Earth Hour has its own impact on B.C.'s power system. Simi Heer, a spokeswoman for B.C. Hydro, said that the utility has the ability to store water in its reservoirs and then generate power as it's needed. When people aren't demanding electricity, they don't have to generate it.

That means during Earth Hour, the onus on B.C. Hydro to provide electricity is simply alleviated, but not eliminated completely.

Turning your lights off during Earth Hour doesn't mean the energy you'd normally use can be stored up and used later. Electricity is transferred through electrons, negative electrical charges that aren't necessarily material things that can be contained.

Earth Hour merely reduces the demand for electricity for a single hour, in this year's case, the hour between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28.

Where Pemberton succeeded, Whistler failed this year. Heer said that Whistler's consumption actually when up 1.1 per cent during Earth Hour. Squamish also reduced its consumption, by 3.6 per cent, according to B.C. Hydro.

This comes despite the fact that Whistler has its own sustainability plan, Whistler 2020, which has enlisted businesses and governments to follow its lead into a greener future.

Where Whistler's consumption went up, the province's consumption went down - 1.1 per cent to be exact. In total British Columbians saved 72.67 MW of electricity during Earth Hour, equal to turning off 1.5 million lights, according to a B.C. Hydro news release.

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