Lights out during Earth Hour

FortisBC's 2012 Earth Hour Community Challenge asks residents to shut off their lights on March 31.

FortisBC’s 2012 Earth Hour Community Challenge will be held on March 31 at 8:30 p.m., where it is encouraging people to turn off the lights for one hour.

FortisBC’s challenge hopes to encourage residents of British Columbia turn off all non-essential lighting, appliances and electronics.

“It’s a fun way to join with over a billion people around the world show you care about the amount of electricity you use every hour, every day,” explained Nicole Bogdanovic, communications specialist with FortisBC. “We are currently reaching out to businesses to see if they will turn off for Earth Hour or, if they are open during that period, provide an Earth Hour experience for customers.”

With FortisBC’s Community Challenge, the community with the highest rate of participation will win the Earth Hour Community Challenge and bragging rights.

A non-profit organization will also receive an energy savings upgrade valued up to  $5,000.

In Grand Forks, the Sunshine Valley Child Care Society is in the running for this year’s energy savings upgrade.

To win, the non-profit organization relies on pledges from residents in the community.

The highest rate of participation is the number of people in a community taking the pledge compared with its 2006 census population.

According to FortisBC, individuals who want to participate in the Earth Hour can sign up on fortisbc.com and be entered to win a weekend at Manteo Resort in Kelowna.

“I think it’s a good awareness piece so people are aware of turning off the lights when you can and just saving energy and your own dollars too,” stated Sunshine Valley Child Care Society Executive Director Fatima Faria. “We’ve put up the posters and talked to the children during circle time to bring about that awareness.”

Posters provided by FortisBC and teachers discuss energy savings and reducing what we use, added Faria.

This is the second year Sunshine Valley Child Care Society has been asked to be a participant by FortisBC.

Organizations are selected by polls, stated Bogdanovic.

“We polled community leaders, FortisBC employees and local governments and then reached out to the organizations to see if they were interested in participating,” she added. “We welcome participating businesses to contact us and we can provide them with promotional items and list them on our website as an Earth Hour Hot Spot in their community.”

Earth Hour began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning their lights off for one hour.

In 2012, it is expected that more than 135 countries will turn off their lights.

To participate, visit fortisbc.com/earthhour.