Some free advice if you're ever walking down a dark street in Germany anytime soon: Be sure your mobile phone is completely charged.
Why? Because the country is turning out all the lights to save energy, and they'll only turn on if you point a mobile phone at them and command them to do so.
So far, the program has been met with modest success. In the small town with a big name Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz, the citizens were given the ability to turn on street light with their mobile. So far, they've managed to save $US5,300. Not too bad for a town of only 900.
In Döblitz, resident Heinrich Frühauf tripped and fell in the darkness, and before you knew it, that town was turning lights on with their mobile phones too. A timer shuts off the lights after 15 minutes.
The systems are so popular in Germany that a company called Dial4Light (so clever!) now charges the cost of a phone call to have the lights come on in the town of Dörentrup. In Rahden, 60 minutes of light costs about $US4.65.
The problem with this system, of course, is that people have tendency to cut corners (i.e. not pay for as much light as safety would require). Light or bread? Light or heat? This could lead to a more than a few open manhole accidents, especially in this tough economy. Maybe this isn't such a bright idea after all. Yes, you can groan about that pun now. [Dial4Light via Treehugger]