After an avalanche drastically cut the supply of electricity, residents the Alaskan capital of Juneau cut their power consumption by almost 40 percent in a few weeks. Now the city is gaining attention as a leader in energy conservation.
"Conservationists swoon at the possibility of it all. Here in Alaska, where melting arctic ice and eroding coastlines have made global warming an urgent threat, this little city has cut its electricity use by more than 30 percent in a matter of weeks, instantly establishing itself as a role model for how to go green, and fast.
Comfort has been recalibrated. The public sauna has been closed and the lights have been dimmed at the indoor community pool. At the library, one of the two elevators was shut down after someone figured out it cost 20 cents for each round trip. The thermostat at the convention center was dialed down eight degrees, to 60. The marquee outside is dark.
Schoolchildren sacrifice Nintendo time and boast at show-and-tell of kilowatts saved. Hotels consult safety regulations to be sure they have not unscrewed too many light bulbs in the hallways. On a recent weekday, all but one of the dozens of television screens on display at the big Fred Meyer store were black - off, that is.
Yet even as they embrace a fluorescent future, the 31,000 residents of Juneau, the state capital, are not necessarily doing it for the greater good. They face a more local inconvenient truth. Electricity rates rocketed about 400 percent after an avalanche on April 16 destroyed several major transmission towers that delivered more than 80 percent of the city's power from a hydroelectric dam about 40 miles south."