As millions of people around the world observed Earth Hour on Saturday, March 27, a cement plant tucked against the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia turned off the lighting array on its 400-foot pre-heater tower — and has no intention of turning them back on.
Before plant managers at the Roanoke Cement Company in Troutville, Virginia, made the decision to switch off the lights almost 100 lights were visible from up to 13 miles away along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, a road that traverses high on the wooded slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The pre-heater tower now has just two prominent red lights to alert small aircrafts flying in the area. “We knew we would make the neighbors happy if we’d just shut the lights off at night,” said Kevin Baird, Plant Manager for Roanoke Cement Company. Baird said he follows the guiding energy principle that “the easiest way to save power is to not use it.”