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Energy crunch forces Juneau to conservePhoto Seanna O’Sullivan/AP

Those of us who have despaired of the industrialised nations’ ability to wean themselves off their addiction to energy should take heart. Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is suffering an energy ‘crunch’ after avalanches knocked over transmission towers and severed high-voltage power lines between the city and the hydro-electric dam at Snettisham. Faced with a five-fold increase in electricity bills after switching to backup diesel generators, Juneau’s 30,000 citizens are cutting back on energy use in any way they can.

Stores, though open, went partially dark. Neon signs were switched off and vending machines unplugged. At home, residents of this former Gold Rush town began living a little bit like pioneers, dusting the snow off the grill, stringing clotheslines in the backyard and flicking off their TV sets. Within a week, electrical usage across town was down as much as 30 percent.

Energy conservation is a hard sell in much of the U.S., but Juneau has proved that people will change their ways if the financial incentives are big enough.

“Turn off, turn down, unplug,” said Sarah Lewis, chairwoman of the Juneau Commission on Sustainability. “That’s what everyone is doing and being vigilant about and commenting when others are not.”

So now we know how to achieve those swingeing energy cuts we need; take out the power lines and make people confront reality. Now where did I put that Semtex?

Read the full story here.

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Written by Pete Smith

May 1, 2008 at 11:18 am

Posted in Energy

Tagged with , , , , ,

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