In April of 2008, an avalanche took out the power lines that bring electricity to the City and Borough of Juneau from the Snettisham Hydroelectric Facility.
The result was that, as with most power outages in Juneau, Alaska Electric Light and Power switched over to the diesel generators to continue to provide electricity. However, this wasn't just any normal power outage. The repairs were predicted to take weeks, perhaps months, and the cost of the diesel fuel to power the generators was extremely high.
AEL&P told their customers that the cost per kilowatt hour was going to increase by approximately 500%. The City and local organizations worked together to help people who were already struggling with their utility bills, and the citizens were urged to drastically decrease their electricity consumption.
The rallying cry was: "Turn Down, Turn Off, Unplug!" and the citizens of Juneau did just that.
An article in US News and World Report described how Juneau- and Douglasites coped.
We turned off lights, those of us with dishwashers (we didn't have one at the time!) washed dishes by hand, people used their gas and charcoal grills to cook, people hung clothes outside (or inside on rainy days) to dry, and people used as little power as possible to keep costs down. And it worked. We all managed to get along just fine with less power. People ate by candle light, played board games, made music together instead of watching TV or playing computer games. We joined together in a common purpose and survived the energy crisis.
Tonight, I was looking at some of my favorite blogs and found this wonderful post by Lois of Living Simply Free. Lois lives in a 300 square foot home, and lives as "green" a life as possible. To commemorate Earth Day, she decided to unplug for 24 hours. The 24 hours turned into two weeks. Read the post - it is inspiring.
Her post made me remember Juneau's energy "fast". How easy it is to forget how well we all got along without using excess power for all those weeks. We weren't completely unplugged, like Lois, but we still conserved. Not a bad idea. So, now that it is staying light out later and later each day (at least until June 21!), I think I will try the experiment again. That means less time on the computer - a big sacrifice for me :-), no TV during the day (sorry, Matt Lauer, you're just going to have to soldier on without me), cooking more things at once instead of firing up the stove several times a day, and hanging up the laundry indoors (until I can get Charles to put up a clothesline outside).
We'll see how it goes, and if our power bill goes down!