Electric companies report results of Columbia's involvement in Earth Hour effort

Monday, March 31, 2008 | 9:29 p.m. CDT; updated 2:50 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The original headline on this story, "Electric companies debate success of Columbia’s first Earth Hour effort," was changed to better reflect the nature of this story.

COLUMBIA — Saturday night marked Columbia’s first participation in the national Earth Hour. From 8 to 9 p.m., businesses and homes around Columbia turned off lights and appliances to cut down on electrical consumption.

Columbia Water and Light measured a reduction in electrical consumption, but Boone Electric Cooperative did not see a significant difference.


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Columbia Water and Light estimated that Earth Hour resulted in a 1.72 megawatt drop in the city’s electrical load, according to a news release. That’s equivalent to the amount of power used by 70 homes in Columbia for one day, according to the release.

Electrical consumption for the hour was measured on a 15-second interval and compared to the previous week’s electric load and previous years’ data, said Columbia Water and Light spokesperson Connie Kacprowicz. She said the data was measured that way to take into account variables such as temperature and the absence of college students during spring break.

Kacprowicz said it was hard to say how many homes participated, though.

Chris Rohlfing, member services manager at Boone Electric Cooperative, said the electric load for the day was recorded and graphed, but the graph showed no significant reduction in consumption. Boone Electric Cooperative’s measurements account for those in Columbia and the rest of Boone County.

Rohlfing said Boone Electric was supportive of the effort but found out about the event too late and couldn’t spread the word to customers.

Monta Welch of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition said she thought Earth Hour was a success.

“We had a lot of people calling in to say they were participating,” Welch said.

She said homes and businesses participated in different ways. Addison’s restaurant and Sycamore restaurant participated by turning off lights in favor of candlelight. Flat Branch Pub and Brewing dimmed some lights inside and turned off some equipment. Rock Bridge Christian Church held a service by candlelight. Businesses that closed before the Earth Hour, such as banks, encouraged employees to participate at home.

Individuals and households participated by hosting medium- to large-sized parties by candlelight.

There are plans to participate in Earth Hour next year, Welch said. “People have even suggested we do this once a week or once a month.”

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Kevin Gamble April 1, 2008 | 9:14 a.m.

Glad to see some specific follow-up on this, especially the details from Columbia Water & Light. It feels good to have contributed to this drop in power use.

One question, though, regarding the headline--was this really a "debate"? Phrasing it that way makes it sound like a disagreement, or that Boone Electric is saying that Earth Hour wasn't a success, which doesn't sound like the truth. Each group just reported their findings, and if one has no change and another has a drop, then isn't the net result a drop--hence a success? Where is the debate?

That's semantics, though, I appreciate the story.

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