Woodstock and Blackout Day challenges Ontarians to "have fun with the lights out" on Aug. 14th!

    WOODSTOCK, ON, July 17 /CNW/ - The city of Woodstock, in partnership with
the Blackout Day group, is once again challenging Ontarians to "have fun with
the lights out" on August 14th.
    Why August 14th? It's the 5th anniversary of the widespread Ontario
blackout of 2003 that started in the United States and cascaded over the
border, ultimately affecting 100-plus generating stations - and hundreds of
thousands of people - in Ontario and eight U.S. states.
    "The Sesame Street's Kermit the Frog once sang It's not easy being green,
and he was right - in more ways than one," said Woodstock Mayor Mike Harding.
"Having fun with the lights out is our way of raising awareness across Ontario
that energy conservation is vital to our economic health."
    During the massive 2003 blackout, "people met neighbours for the first
time and communities really came together," said Caroline Reilly, Director of
the Mississauga-based Blackout Day Group.
    "So in the spirit of energy conservation, we're inviting people to get
together again on that day and have fun with the lights out!"
    Blackout Day caught the collective imagination of Woodstock residents in
2005 when the Mayor's Challenge first launched, Harding explained. "That
grassroots enthusiasm has delivered real energy conservation results for our
    Blackout Day brings home the need for conservation and how it positively
impacts power bills, said Jessica Happl, Vice Chair of the Woodstock
Environment Advisory Committee.
    This month, the Blackout Day Group launched its new website
www.blackoutday.ca. It shows plenty of ways to have fun with the lights out
for individuals, businesses, schools and municipalities. The website also
serves as a virtual meeting place for people to interact and share how they
will take the Blackout Day challenge.
    For instance, so energy conservation doesn't become a burden, the site
offers ways to dine without cooking and themes for Blackout Day parties that
involve friends and colleagues in ways that spread the word about demand
management as a tool to lower the province's energy usage.
    Woodstock, the city that launched the voluntary Blackout Day Challenge in
2005, has partnered with The Blackout Day Group. Ontario cities can now sign
up online and challenge neighbouring municipalities to see who can conserve
the most energy on August 14th. They can also access tools and media to
promote the day in their cities and find ideas for fun events.
    "People, businesses and cities are invited to get creative on how they
will take action to conserve energy while planning a unique party or event on
Blackout Day," says Reilly. "Businesses and organizations especially can make
a big difference by involving their customers and employees, sponsoring prizes
or holding fun events or promotions to help spread the word and motivate even
more people to participate in Blackout Day."
    www.blackoutday.ca also provides a talk-back section for sharing stories
about the 2003 Blackout, no-cook recipes, Blackout Day party ideas, energy
conservation tips. For individuals, there's a sweepstakes prize - an
Ecomagination(TM) dishwasher generously sponsored by General Electric.
    People can go online between July 15 and August 12, sign up for the
individual challenge and they are automatically entered into the sweepstakes.
With its SmartDispense(TM) reservoir, the GE Profile(TM) dishwasher can hold
the equivalent of a 1.38-liter container of detergent. Fill it up once, and it
calculates the exact amount of water and soap needed for a perfect wash, every
time, for two months.
    "We're hoping the Blackout Day Challenge will become a viral movement
that will capture peoples' imagination," says Reilly. "It's pure contagious

    The Not-For-Profit Blackout Day Group saw an opportunity to make a
difference by creating an online community www.blackoutday.ca for people,
schools and businesses to power down on the August 14th anniversary of the
2003 Blackout.
    This online community also hosts the City of Woodstock's grassroots
Blackout Day Challenge, which, since 2005, has challenged Ontario
Municipalities to power down on August 14th. The Blackout Day Group, Woodstock
Environmental Advisory Committee (WEAC) and Woodstock Hydro Services partnered
to raise awareness of energy conservation through this innovative challenge.

For further information:

For further information: Caroline Reilly, Director of the Blackout Day
Group, at (289) 291-5251 Ext 200, or caroline@blackoutday.ca

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