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March 29, 2010

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Residents: Is Earth Hour worth it?

WITH Earth Hour having come and gone, some residents doubt the energy saving effect of turning landscape lights off at landmark buildings for one hour.

Some residents questioned via the Internet whether the event could actually save electricity. Others wondered whether it wasted energy due to the technical aspects of electric power generation.

"Just imagine how much electric power has been wasted promoting the event," said Xu Yuan, a 42-year-old resident who refused to participate in Earth Hour.

"I'd like to hear that the factories were forced to stop carbon dioxide emissions for this hour rather than joining this skin-deep show."

Among the doubters, some Netizens argued, based on their own work experience at local power plants, that although the lights were switched off, the electricity had still been generated due to an expected generation indicator.

When power demand is lower than power generation, the redundant power is wasted, said a Netizen who claimed to be a senior student majoring in electric power generation.

However, Wang Changxing, an official with Shanghai Power Co, said the concern was unwarranted as the city's power generation system has been upgraded to real-time monitoring, which means electricity is generated according to demand.

"The event did actually save some electricity as power generation dropped during the hour," Wang said.

However, Wang couldn't provide a specific figure of how much electricity was saved on Saturday.

Others online said Earth Hour is important and were glad that Shanghai had participated.

Some who voiced their opinions on Baidu Post Bar, one of the country's biggest online communities, argued that the event was meaningful because it was designed to raise public awareness of environmental issues.

"The event helped more people realize that everybody is responsible for our environment, and they can help right now in their daily life," said Liu Seng, 23, an office worker.

About 80 percent of the city's lighting system along major elevated roads and the Expo site will be replaced with new, energy-saving LED lights before the Shanghai World Expo opens on May 1. The lights are expected to save up to 100,000 yuan (US$14,645) on electricity every year.

Scenic spots such as Xintiandi and Lujiazui plunged into darkness to join Earth Hour on Saturday. Shanghai's three tallest buildings, Shanghai World Financial Center, Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Jin Mao Tower, all turned off landscape lights from 8:30pm to 9:30pm.


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