I awoke this morning to the usual regurgitation of the usual self congratulatory press releases by utilities claiming another Earth Hour “success.” Toronto Hydro reported a 200-megawatt drop in consumption, the implication being that the annual conserve-fest was responsible. This was obligingly reported by CBC News. What nonsense. Check the consumption patterns on any Saturday evening and you will see similar drops between eight and nine p.m. Yesterday’s drop had nothing to do with Earth Hour, and everything to do with normal consumption patterns.
What is really disappointing is that the greenhouse gases from grid electricity remained almost exactly the same during Earth Hour. That is because the provincial fossil-fired fleet, which consists mostly of gas-fired generators, registered a minuscule 36-MW reduction in generator output. That means that their collective GHG emissions were only 21 metric tons less at nine p.m. than at eight.
There was a drop in generator output during Earth Hour, but that was almost entirely from the provincial hydro fleet. Hydro generators collectively generated 357 megawatts less at nine than at eight.
But who cares. Hydro emits no greenhouse gases. Ontarians could have increased power consumption during Earth Hour, and our collective GHGs would have been the same.
It is disappointing that no media have reported that little fact. Earth Hour was totally irrelevant. The best thing about it is that it is over, and we don’t have to listen to the meaningless, uninformed hype.
It is probably needless for me to point out that I did not observe Earth Hour. I don’t think there is anything wrong with electricity; in fact I find a lot of things right with it. Exhortations to use less of it are based on fundamental lack of understanding of the kinds of energy we use and why we use them. And almost without exception, those who boost Earth Hour like it is meaningful are also boosters of the least efficient and most resource-intensive kinds of electricity.
So I kept the lights on and watched, on my (electric-powered) flat screen, the (electrically broadcast) Leafs-Bruins hockey game, which was played on artificial ice. The Leafs won.