Thursday, March 27, 2008

Portland to go lights out for Earth Hour on Saturday

Portland Press Herald

From 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., businesses and residents will return to the dark ages for energy conservation.

By JOHN RICHARDSON, Staff Writer March 26, 2008

It might get a little darker than usual in Portland and other areas Saturday night.

Businesses, residents and city officials are pledging to turn off the lights from 8 to 9 to celebrate Earth Hour. The event, scheduled to take place around the world, is being organized on the Internet as a way to focus attention on global warming and energy conservation.

"It's going to be rolling around the planet," said Liz Seidel, an organizer of the Portland event with the Maine chapter of the Sierra Club. "It was done last year in Sydney, Australia, and more than 2 million businesses and residents turned off their lights for one hour."

Seidel said businesses and residents in downtown Portland, as well as in several other southern Maine communities, have pledged to turn off their lights.

Portland's City Council passed a proclamation Monday supporting Earth Hour, and Mayor Edward Suslovic said he hopes that the event will promote energy efficiency.

"We'll be turning the lights off at City Hall," Suslovic said. Other nonessential lights in the city also might be turned off, he said.

Street and traffic lights will remain on.

The event coincides with the planned release this week of a Sustainable Portland report calling for the city to increase energy conservation efforts.

Suslovic said he's also interested in making city lighting more efficient so wasted light doesn't hit the night sky.

"You really can't see the stars very well anymore," he said.

The Sierra Club is organizing a candlelight rally to celebrate Earth Hour in Portland's Monument Square. Speakers, including Suslovic and Glen Brand of the Sierra Club, will talk about global warming and what individuals can do to reduce pollution and save energy.

The rally starts at 7:30 p.m. and will feature live music -- acoustic, naturally.

The World Wildlife Federation is the prime organizer of Earth Hour and is sponsoring events in more than two dozen U.S. cities, including Phoenix, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago and Denver.

To learn more about Earth Hour in Maine, go to

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

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