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Dimly aware of Lights Out?

A Los Angeles-area campaign to raise energy awareness wasn't aglow with publicity.

October 21, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

City and county officials had asked thousands of Los Angeles County residents and businesses to switch off their lights for one hour Saturday night in an effort to raise awareness about energy conservation and environmental issues.

But a late start in publicizing the event may have dimmed its effectiveness.

Organizers called for lights to be turned off between 8 and 9 p.m. Saturday -- and at 8:30 p.m. in downtown Los Angeles, several buildings traditionally aglow were less so. The city's famous City Hall, normally bathed in white light, was virtually dark, as was the block-long criminal courts building. Several downtown lofts also appeared to be complying.

But in other areas, it was lights on as usual. On Pasadena's website, there was no mention of Lights Out LA, as the event was called, and the city's ornate City Hall was brilliantly illuminated. In many other areas, buildings and residences were also brightly lighted.

Lights Out LA followed a similar effort in Sydney, Australia, in which 2.2 million residents contributed to a 10% drop in electricity use.

San Francisco also conducted a lights-out campaign Saturday; civic leaders had planned the event for almost half a year. Los Angeles officials began their campaign only weeks ago but were enthusiastic about its success.

Southern California Edison, which provides power to many suburban areas in Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties as well as some cities in Los Angeles County, asked its customers to turn off one lightbulb for one hour between 8 and 9 p.m., spokesperson Mashi Nyssen said.

Several businesses and area utilities supported the effort, as did a number of county buildings and fire stations, said James Bolden, press deputy for county Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke, whose office helped orchestrate the campaign.

"A lot of people jumped on board," Bolden said.

Karly Katona, another Burke deputy, said the Chamber of Commerce encouraged members to go along with the effort.

"More than measuring the energy savings for the hour, the goal is really to engage people on energy, conservation and environmental awareness," Katona said. "It's not whether you can turn out a light tonight. It's when can you make it a point to take an hour and turn out the lights. It's an exercise to change lifestyle."

The city and county are gearing up for a much larger event, Lights Out America, scheduled for March 29.

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