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Funny how blackouts can inspire good green thinking. Many cities throughout North America have experienced blackouts, rolling or otherwise, over the last few years. And some of these lights-out periods have spurred more than a little thinking on how to reduce overall energy consumption, not least of which is what we use to light our streets and homes at night.

Cities along the eastern seaboard have recently experienced several bouts of power-out darkness—some cities went multiple nights without electricity. This, apparently, got people to thinking that they could make the most out of being in the dark, prompting them to turn their eyes skywards to take advantage of the unusually dark skies. A lot of stars were seen for those few days.

And since, it seems that there’s a new, growing appreciation for night skies. Pockets of people are starting to lobby their governments for dark sky ordinances in an effort to encourage better viewing of the heavens.

But more than that, people are starting to see the energy-hogging illumination that is industrial and residential lighting. Coupling the problem of over energy consumption with desires for dark skies has encouraged people to consider how their cities might save scads of energy by choosing more efficient fixtures.

An interesting development in the lighting industry is the addition of dimmable streetlamps. This not-so-new technology is finally being applied to industrial fixtures, allowing cities to dim the lights on dark snowy nights, or evenings when better fireworks display-viewing is desired. And of course, dimming lights means turning down the energy consumption, too.

So, although we don’t want to see entire cities plunged into darkness in the dead of winter again any time soon, we certainly welcome the forward-thinking that results. Here’s where being in the dark perhaps isn’t so bad.