More than 7,000 of Tallinn's 55,000 street lamps were turned off in 2009 as part of austerity measures. Reusing the lamps, most of which have been inoperative for the best part of the last five years, will cost the city around 1 million euros a year.
In December, 35 lamps were turned back on; 4,000 will be reactivated this month.
Around 2,500 streetlights will be switched on in February, when the new public lighting service agreement comes into effect. The city has negotiated lower maintenance costs with Elering, the state's power grid operator. The 1 million euros freed up by this deal will be used to cover the network and electricity costs that come with ending the city's current recession mode, said deputy mayor Kalle Klandorf.
Tarmo Sulg, of Tallinn's utilities department, explained why an estimated 25 percent of the city has remained dark at night for so long.
"It was necessarily to use extreme austerity measures in 2009, when the economic crisis hit. Yet, straight after the economic crisis receded, the introduction of an open electricity market led to a significant price hike and deterred us from turning the streetlights back on. With the new procurement, we have managed to secure slightly cheaper maintenance, allowing us to turn the lights back on again on a step-by-step basis," he said.
"I cannot point out areas where more or less lamps have been switched off than in others. We first implemented the saving mode on larger streets that had the strongest lights, but eventually had to do the same in smaller bystreets. We now start turning on the lights in those bystreets, where the lighting is worst, moving towards larger streets," he added.
Tallinn's yearly budget for lighting its streets is a bit more than 7 million euros.
Sulg said that Tallinn also plans to use more LED lamps in the coming years.
"We do not envisage an increase in the number of streetlights. Rather, the new technologies enable us to lower the number of lamps by offering better light output and distribution. Take Pärnu highway for example, where the two sodium-vapor lamps on one lamppost have been replaced by a single LED light."
Editor: M. Oll