Alcatraz, City Hall, the Golden Gate Bridge and other parts of San Francisco will go almost completely dark for an hour next month as part of a campaign to conserve energy and fight global warming.
Organizers of Lights Out San Francisco are asking city residents and businesses to install energy-efficient bulbs and turn off all unnecessary lights from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20. The goal is to save 15 percent of the electricity consumed on an average Saturday night.
Over the next month, the campaign will give away more than 100,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs, donated by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Yahoo Inc., as part of its effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and raise awareness about energy conservation.
"The idea is to give people an opportunity to pause for a moment and think about energy consumption," said campaign organizer Nate Tyler. "A lot of people are thinking about what they can do to deal with climate change, and this is something very simple they can do to make a difference."
Tyler said he was inspired to launch Lights Out San Francisco after visiting Australia in March. He was eating at a restaurant in Sydney when suddenly the whole city went dark for Earth Hour, an annual event to encourage energy savings.
Lights Out organizers are working on a national campaign that calls for voluntary brownouts on March 29 in 15 major American cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
On Oct. 20, street lights and traffic lights will stay on in San Francisco, but City Hall and other municipal buildings will go dark, as will the historic prison on Alcatraz Island.
Most lighting on the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge will be turned off, though roadway lights will remain on for safety reasons.
The San Francisco Restaurant Association will be organizing candlelight dinners, and a Lights Out celebration will be held in the Mission District's Dolores Park.
San Francisco-based PG&E will be handing out the energy-efficient light bulbs — which are 70 percent more efficient and last ten times longer than traditional bulbs — at events to promote the campaign over the next several weeks.
"It's a great opportunity to illustrate the impact of our customers' energy use on the environment and climate change," said PG&E spokesman Keely Wachs.