Lights out!


10 Responses to “Lights out!”

  1. phasor3000 says:

    Has anyone considered the effect on the power grid of turning millions of lights back on within a period of few minutes? Sudden load spikes are a good way to discover failure modes…

  2. Silva says:

    Earlier this year there was a similar initiative in here (Portugal), but the REN (responsible for the power grid) and Quercus (green association) both warned to the possible danger of it (story here, sorry, only Portuguese, sorry).

    As they put it, electricity from thermal power stations is constantly generated regardless of the consumption, and sudden changes aren’t planned by the system. The practical example given is a truck that has the trailer suddenly detached: there’s a sudden surge of power that can result in the truck going out of control. He also presented two actual examples, after a 9-11 memorial in Germany following and in Spain for 3-11.

  3. kees says:

    The BBC was planning a similar event in the UK but decided not to go through with it since the pwergrid would probably collapse when everybody switched on again.

    The crunch issue with the big switch-off idea, [the National Grid] suggests, is that nobody would be able to estimate how many people would take part. Estimate too few and loss of supply could follow. Too many and unnecessary energy could be wasted.

    “Saying we want to switch off everything now is not going to be sustainable and is very, very unpredictable. You would create far more carbon [emission] than what you would actually save.”

    Background information on this decision is here:

  4. DragonPhyre says:

    Yes! Lets blow up the grid, and start over again! We need to beef it up in order to support plug-in electric cars anyhow.

  5. Brian Carnell says:

    I keep hearing how wonderful CFL lights are, but everytime I install them the failure rate is ridiculously high given how expensive they are.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This would be great for astronomers – can we do it longer and more often?

    (Oh, that didn’t sound the way I meant it to!)
    -anonymous astroboy

  7. iain010100 says:

    Now I know which night to plan my mugging spree.

  8. nick says:

    I hope they pull it off, mainly because I like the idea of one night without light pollution when you can actually see the stars. Or at least more of them than usual.

    But surely there’s a way to coordinate this without blowing the grid. I mean, c’mon.

  9. Anonymous says:

    In our city (Ottawa, Ontario) there is a non-profit group called Project Porchlight ( that is working to deliver one CFL bulb to every household in Canada. We got one shortly after moving into our new house. The CFL bulb initiative part of this story makes much more sense than the lights out idea.

  10. Anonymous says:

    A neat idea, but doesn’t sound too healthy for the grid, particularly with respect to the date chosen. October is usually a pretty low-demand month (Halloween lights notwithstanding). The power savings would have more of an impact if done in the height of summer (perhaps get everyone to turn their AC off for an hour at 3pm in July? — or for the whole day!)

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