Nova Scotians showed our traditionalism at its best with nothing short of a pathetic effort during Earth Hour in 2009. Pictures from Halifax-Dartmouth shown below provide some evidence. Statistics from Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI) were as dark as Nova Scotia should have been, obscured in ambiguity without context. By action, Nova Scotians’ response to participation in Earth Hour was a resounding Watt Hour?
According to NSPI, Nova Scotian power usage dropped “15 megawatts or the equivalent of 1,153,845 13 watt compact fluorescent light bulbs” (CFLs). No other context was given so let’s start with some questions.
First, dropped from what? A seasonal average? This date last year? And what percentage was saved? 15 megawatters (MW) out of 1,500MW rather than 150MW are very different outcomes (1% versus 10%).
Mar 30 update: It was a one percent (1%) reduction [Toronto Star, Mar 30 4:30 AM].
Second, it was a relatively balmy 2 to 5 degrees Celcius at 9 pm tonight, the warmest in a while and well over the -2.6 degree Celcius mean temperature for March 2008 [Environment Canada]. How much of that power saving was due to less heat required rather than lights going out? NSPI can’t be expected to report this precisely, but they should have data to estimate it. If they don’t, Nova Scotians should worry.
Third, big buildings and structures like the bridges in Halifax-Dartmouth probably accounted for a good chunk of the 15MW reduction. Their lights aren’t exactly small power consumers. Despite being in this all together, perhaps something about what the general public contributed would help to give an idea of the effort. NSPI must recognize residential and commercial accounts in their billings. However, to give credit where it’s due, NSPI did get the information up online just hours after Earth Hour was over.
Fourth, was this progress? Fortunately, I found last year’s result to be 8MW in reduction [Cape Breton Post] so this year’s 15MW reduction was almost twice as good. For that, let’s take a second to say “hip hip hurrah”, but then move on because looking at the bigger context and rating progress against our Canadian neighbours (see below), our results were pathetic.
Using NSPI’s figures, for our population of about 0.95 million, I can calculate that each Nova Scotian saved about 16W during Earth hour. Watts isn’t the proper way to express energy savings scientifically, by the way, but we’ll save the science for another time and just work with it as is for simplicity of comparison.
How did Nova Scotia do compared to the rest of Canada for Earth Hour?
Ontario, outside of Toronto, saved 920 MW or 6%, from typical demand, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and CTV Toronto. At a population of 12.9 million, that’s 71W per person for the hour or 4.5X the amount Nova Scotians saved. Temperature ranged from 7 to -10 degrees Celcius so they probably didn’t save as much for heat as we did, either, with us at 2 to 5 degrees.
Live reports on the CBC television at the time of this post (1:40AM Sun Mar 29) claimed Toronto chipped in for 452 MW or 82W per person for the hour if you use the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) population of 5.5 million instead of 2.48 million for just Toronto [City of Toronto]. CTV Toronto puts this at a 15.2% reduction, up from 8.7% last year. If you use the latter population figure, they saved 182W per person for the hour, which would not be surprising given the large number of businesses and landmarks which are major consumers of power at night who participated. Regardless, that’s 5.1X or 11.5X the amount Nova Scotians saved, pending the number you choose, which is irrelevant for comparative purposes because of the big gap in either case. It was 11 degrees Celcius in Toronto at the time, much warmer than our 2 to 5 degrees or so, but that wouldn’t be nearly enough to account for the disparity between the two performances. Nor will I believe any claim that denizens at the “centre of the universe” using more power than the typical Nova Scotians as being sufficient to close the gap much, either.
Mar 30 update: Nova Scotia sat at a 1% reduction, but so did Newfoundland and Labrador, and the much touted environmentally friendly British Columbia. Calgary reported a small drop but was not quantified. Manitoba saw an increase but did not officially participate to get the word and encouragement out to the public. It was also rather cold that night at -8 degree Celcius and -13 windchill. Temperatures in other places were not reported for consideration of heat influence from Earth Hour night compared to other years or regular patterns [Toronto Star, Mar 30 4:30 AM].
Despite these relative comparisons to show we had “company” in our performance range, it does nothing to change my view on Halifax, Dartmouth and Nova Scotia’s performance. We can definitely do much better and should strive for it in years after this [ some tips for greater reductions ].
Pictures from Halifax-Dartmouth showed very little noticeable effort
Seeing very little noticeable effort during Earth Hour from my downtown apartment window, I ventured up Citadel Hill, the high point in the landscape of Halifax and Dartmouth, to see if I just had a bad “sampling”. I also walked around the hill and downtown a bit and saw I didn’t. About the only noticeable structures I saw turned off from the hill were:
- Angus MacDonald bridge floodlights turned off;
- Nova Scotia Power building turned off for the most part;
- City Hall; and
- Aliant Building.
Good for them all, but can you believe that was pretty much it? The Metro Centre’s advertising board was lit up brightly as usual, practically lighting up its side of Citadel Hill. The BDC building, Homburg building, Town Clock and such were also all lit up. Participation in apartment buildings I could see weren’t great, either. However, I only documented with pictures of Dartmouth below because I did not have the night lens required for a wide view of Halifax, where you couldn’t identify the “guilty” parties. I wasn’t out to point fingers.
But before I present the pictures, I’m going to challenge Nova Scotians to do better next year because, frankly, I’m ashamed! If you’re Nova Scotian and reading this, you should be, too, even if you did your part like I did! I shared some tips for what to do, and other Canadians also shared their activities on the CBC. And I’m also going to call out NSPI to provide better reporting instead of sounding like a politician.
Compare the pictures below to CBC’s Toronto Earth Hour gallery of what a truly participating location should look like during Earth Hour and see the difference!
Click on all photos below to see enlarged versions.
What were your observations for Nova Scotia’s Earth Hour efforts?
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.9