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Unite to conserve electricity

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"Record heat strains Utah power grid," screamed the lead headline in Tuesday's Deseret News.

That followed by a day a story detailing Utah's first "yellow" energy conservation day, which was caused by triple-digit temperatures. A "green" energy conservation day means normal conservation efforts are in order, with additional measures needed for "yellow" and "red" days.

A "red" day means there's a shortage of reserve power. Utah Power spokesman Dave Eskelsen isn't forecasting any "red" days this summer but they could occur if power supplies dwindle enough in neighboring states and affect the entire West's power grid.

The use of traffic signal colors to alert residents to the energy situation is part of a state energy conservation program called "Power Forward."

High temperatures and power plant problems were significant factors in rolling blackouts in southern Nevada Monday, the first time that has occurred in that state's history. As temperatures continue to hover around 100 degrees here, it becomes imperative that Utah residents take voluntary conservation measures seriously.

With more "yellow" days likely, Utahns need to pay close attention to what electric power they are using, particularly from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., the peak usage period. If Utahns would voluntarily refrain from using large appliances during that time, the electrical supply would stand a better chance of keeping up with the demand. Residents should reduce air conditioning needs as they're able to, keeping in mind that their health is of overriding importance.

Everyone, though, can turn off lights when they're not needed. Businesses and government workplaces also could take appropriate measures to reduce electrical power output.

The small Cache County town of Hyrum is setting an example by taking a proactive approach. Hyrum shuts off half the lights on Main Street daily, and turns off a portion of the lights in all public buildings.

The key to successful conservation efforts is the collective effort of individuals. Families can and should make it a priority to conserve electricity. Utah Power will credit those households that save 10 or 20 percent on their monthly energy usage as compared to the same period last year with a corresponding 10 to 20 percent rebate bonus.

Residents and the private and public sectors need to work together. To endure slight inconveniences voluntarily is better than to be forced into total darkness.