Thursday, December 06, 2012

Turn Off The Lights When You Leave The Room

Christmas Lights On The Champs Elysees in Paris
During the 1990's, in the hay day of perceived unlimited and cheap nuclear energy, the National French Electric Energy Utility Company, The EDF, was privatized. It had been run by the government for years, but under Chirac, many of the nationalized businesses were privatized. The government stills holds a major portion of the stock, but The EDF and The GDF (Suez) are now private companies. When the EDF became private, it aggressively marketed energy. I live in a very rural location with a few small towns on the horizon. I see the stars at night and the milky way very clearly, but with the expansion of the EDF,  most of the little villages were sold on the idea of high intensity sodium vapor street lighting for the concept of security. Since I have moved here, I have noticed the increase in light pollution...glows on the horizon which compete with the pristine brilliance of the night sky. Luckily here in the Dordogne, the idea of thrift stills reigns and most of little the villages turn off their lights after midnight. Frankly, the you'd be lucky if you found a stray cow out on the roads after 11 pm. I live quite far from the town and this time of the year, I am more likely to break up a party of sanglier carousing on the road late at night.
Life has a much different rhythm here. Even in the big cities, the streets are fairly deserted after midnight. Even in Paris, the city shuts down early. It’s not a ’round-the-clock city like New York or Sao Paulo where clubs and restaurants are always open. The Metro closes at 1AM during the week, and 2AM on the weekends. There are a few 24 hour restaurants but very few. The 24×7 shopping culture of the US does not exist in France, with most shops closing at 8PM, perhaps a few grocery stores as late as 10PM and of course, most shops are closed on Sundays.
So why are merchants claiming the governments new proposed regulation to turn off the advertising signs of the stores after 1 am catastrophic? If nobody is walking the streets at these hours, who cares if the lights are on or off? This is all about saving energy and saving energy means saving money as well, but I guess the perceived savings don't cut it when it's the profits of the EDF at stake. They have been drumming up the opposition with the business owners.
This via Bloomberg, yesterday Dec.5:

The French minister for energy and environment unveiled last week a proposal for lights in and outside shops, offices, and public buildings — including the flagship Louis Vuitton store and the Lido cabaret house on Paris’s Avenue des Champs Elysees — to be turned off between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. starting in July. The plan, to be applied across French cities, towns and villages, is aimed at saving energy and money and showing “sobriety,” Minister Delphine Batho said.The move has provoked an outcry from merchants, who say the government is being insensitive to France’s image as the world’s No. 1 tourist destination. They say the rule, on top of existing bans on Sunday store openings and night shopping, will hurt business at a time when the French economy has barely grown for a year and unemployment is at a 14-year high.
“Great! Another positive message sent to citizens and to tourists: the city will go dark!” said Sofy Mulle, vice- president of the France’s Commerce Council, which represents all of the country’s 650,000 merchants employing about 3.5 million people. “We are ready to make efforts, but the government is cutting a fine line between sobriety and austerity. Surely, we can work out environmentally friendly solutions that have less impact on our society and our economy.”

Sure thing, whatever guys. Why is it that they always can self-regulate at times like this, but when they’re given the choice, they never do it? We are not talking public security here, just turning off the lights of stores after 1 am. The government has even assured people that the bright garish familiar pharmacy signs won't be affected...not that you can find a pharmacy open after 1 am...but...If they really wanted to cut their losses, the massive cost over run on the new technology European Pressurized Nuclear reactor would be a good place to start. The over run is now almost 9 billion Euros.The plant is being jointly built by the EDF and AREVA. This slight miscalculation is being paid for by increases in energy costs by the French consumers. Just think what it could have meant if the money spent on this failed technology had been invested in clean energy research? Tough luck.

1 comment:

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