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Anniversary Remembered with "Blackout Challenge"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

  • The Blackout from space

    The Blackout from space

This Monday is the third anniversary of that massive blackout of 2003 that plunged Ontario and much of the northeastern United States into darkness for hours upon end. In honour of this auspicious anniversary the City of Woodstock invited every municipality in Ontario to take the “Blackout Challenge” on Sunday to encourage energy conservation and efficiency. The City of Guelph took up the gauntlet and is getting ready to save the power.

“We’re urging people to make a concerted effort to use less electricity on August 13,” said Mayor Quarrie on the City of Guelph website. “That means making small changes like barbequing instead of using the stove, or adjusting the air conditioning thermostat up three to five degrees. It’s an important part of raising awareness about how crucial our power supply is to daily life. And it’s a reminder that electricity isn’t an infinite resource.”

The challenge will be measured like this: on Sunday, the Guelph Hydro Electric System will measure how much power the city uses that day and then Ontario’s Independent Electricity System’s Operator will compare that number to the city’s normal use on a comparable day.

Since the challenge is being held on a Sunday, much of this work will have to be taken up at home; but here on campus the University has voiced enthusiastic support for the Blackout Challenge and fully intends on doing their part. The University Centre, the largest office building on campus, will reduce air conditioning to “holiday mode” and will completely shut off most of the fans in the building.

In 2003, nearly 50 million people over 24,000 sq. kilometres were affected when a FirstEnergy generating plant in Parma, Ohio went off-line due to high-energy demands at approximately 4:06 pm. The strained power lines created a cascading effect across the entire network when they came into contact with some overgrown trees and by 4:10, generators from Ohio to Ontario shut down like a row of dominos. In the space of seven minutes, 256 power plants were shut down and the blackout was on.

You can click here to get energy saving tips from the city’s website.

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