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Athens to Undergo Planned Darkness

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Always known as a progressive city because of its academia, the city of Athens plans to participate in conserving electricity as a city by simply switching off the lights.

During the city council committee meetings on Monday, Fourth Ward Rep. Chris Fahl reminded her fellow council members of the upcoming Earth Hour sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“We did something similar last year,” Fahl said. “We brought it up and talked about it.”

The event will take place on Mar. 23 at 8:30 p.m. Those wishing to participate need only switch off their non-necessary lights to create an appropriate blackout across the city.

“It is a global event that is timed so that cities, individuals and organizations all turn off unnecessary lights for an hour and it is a very visible thing,” Fahl said. “I think if we all think about it, we all have lights that we just kind of leave on. We need to think about how much electricity we have and climate change and fracking and those sort of things.”

The idea for Earth Hour began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia and now takes place in more than 6,950 cities and towns in 152 countries and territories around the world, according to the WWF website. In its first year in Australia, more than two million individuals and 2,000 businesses participated in the event.

“I think it would be interesting to show in terms of a city’s responsibility to sponsor Earth Hour,” At-Large Rep. Steve Patterson said.

The council spoke of drafting a resolution to join 2014’s Earth Hour City Challenge which would offer the city a benefits package to reward cities planning to reduce their carbon footprint. Benefits could include being selected as The U.S. Earth Hour Capital, receiving climate expertise from the WWF staff and training such as how to raise public awareness and engage with the city business sector.

Along with the overall willingness to participate in the event, council members also voiced concerns of possibly measuring the electricity saved citywide through American Electric Power.

“I think that would be very interesting to see as a city and to share with other cities across the nation,” Patterson said.

Helping the environment and educating residents appealed to council members. They plan to talk more about Earth Hour during next Monday’s meeting.

“This is how we can also help with making things more efficient,” Fahl said. “It is an educational challenge.”

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