Cities facing issues with street lighting during soaring energy prices

Street lamps in Tartu.
Street lamps in Tartu. Source: Ahto Sooaru

The period of soaring energy prices has caused some concerns for Estonian cities in regard to street lighting. While Tallinn and Tartu will not turn off their lights, smaller local government municipalities are considering it.

In 2020, Tartu city government's electricity bill for December was €96,000. This past December, that number grew to €241,000. Although much of the electricity bill stems from street lighting, Tartu has not cast darkness on any streets yet, Tartu road service authority's street lighting chief specialist Andrus Reinmann told ERR.

"It is simple to turn off the lights that are electronically managed. The lights on some cul-de-sacs, where you can theoretically turn off two, three, maybe 10 lights, you would have to send a fitter with a lift, which will likely cost more than keeping those 10 lights on," Reinmann said.

The main reason for why lights are not shut off is still resident well-being. That is also the reason in Tallinn, deputy mayor Vladimir Svet said.

"We are not planning on taking steps that were made during the financial crisis in 2008, when every other light was on or when they were turned off later in the evening. For us, traffic safety is a priority, both on sidewalks and roads," Svet said.

Tallinn spent nearly €2 million on electricity in 2019 and some €1.4 million last year due to cheaper prices. The bill for last year came in at €3.3 million. "If we look at growth in the last two years, it makes up 83 percent. When we compare that to just last year, it is 152 percent. Based on that, price inflation becomes a serious concern to the Tallinn city budget," the deputy mayor said.

Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities adviser Kalle Toomet said some local municipality governments are considering turning off some street lamps. "Some light paths, which are outside the settlement and are used less might be considered," Toomet said, adding that local municipality governments have been hit with very high electricity bills lately.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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