March 25, 2018 4:44 pm
Updated: March 25, 2018 5:43 pm

Electricity use actually went up in B.C. during Earth Hour, says BC Hydro 

WATCH: Countries around the world switched off the lights for Earth Hour, a global call for international unity on the importance of climate change.

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BC Hydro says it saw in increase in electricity use during Earth Hour, an annual global event that encourages people to turn off the lights to raise awareness about energy conservation and climate change.

The utility company said electricity use actually rose by 0.2 per cent province-wide during Earth Hour, which took place on Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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The news comes after BC Hydro published a report that found the energy saved across the province during the hour-long event was just 0.3 per cent last year — down 15 per cent from savings in 2008.

READ MORE: BC Hydro report suggests Earth Hour participation on the decline, but conservationists aren’t buying it

The people behind Earth Hour said the report didn’t reflect the stated aims behind the event, and have problems with conflating a symbolic gesture with energy savings.

“Energy consumption is a poor measurement for what Earth Hour is trying to achieve,” World Wildlife Fund Canada spokesperson Philippe Devos told Global News.

An environmental economist “broadly agrees” with the findings noting initiatives lose momentum over time.

“The sort of visible action that people can take is turning off their lights, but as more people install compact fluorescents or LED lights, their energy consumption is just going to be lower on average and so we’re going to see less of a reduction proportionally in terms of total usage when they turn off those lights than we would’ve 10 years ago when everybody was using incandescents,” said UBC’s Patrick Baylis.

He also said British Columbians care about the environment, but are aware most of the province’s energy comes from hydroelectricity and not a coal or natural gas power plant.

Since beginning in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has spread to more than 180 countries, with tens of millions of people joining in, from turning off their own porch lights to letting landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and New York City’s Empire State Building go dark.

Although it still encourages people to take part, BC Hydro suggested Earth Hour is not as effective in B.C. as in other parts of Canada, due to the province’s power grid largely relying on hydroelectric sources.

— With files from Sean Boynton, Michelle Morton and The Associated Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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