Last year, when the city of Phoenix still had money, Earth Hour was all fun and games. Then came the recession, which forced the city to start making nine-digit budget cuts and laying off hundreds of people.
New Times has confirmed that, this year, Phoenix won't be spending thousands in public funds to shut off the lights of city buildings for an hour.
Earth Hour 2009 takes place on March 28.
As we reported last March, the city spent $3,000 in 2008 to help market the World Wildlife Fund's event, paying workers overtime to shut off lights that normally stayed on. The city also asked employees to draw the blinds at their desks, apparently hoping folks on the ground would think the buildings were greener than they really were.
"We're not doing it again this year," says Scott Phelps, spokesman for Mayor Phil Gordon. "We don't need to spend $3,000 when we're making budget cuts."
Phoenix will probably just issue a news release letting residents know how to participate, if they so choose, Phelps says.
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Don't think the city of Phoenix doesn't care about saving power, though: The recession is its own conservation program, at least in the short term. Fewer employees mean fewer computers and lights on, presumably. Mayor Gordon also emphasized green technologies in his recent state-of-the-city address.
Earth Hour might not be practical, but it does help put focus on the world's energy problems. It's also a heck of a fundraiser for the World Wildlife fund.
The best part about Earth Hour 2009:
Not only can you still enjoy darkness in your own home for an hour, but you can gaze at the lights burning in empty city of Phoenix buildings and marvel about the taxpayer money being saved.