Minister: Reduced highway illumination could cut public sector energy bills

Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman (Isamaa).
Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman (Isamaa). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Reducing electric lighting on major highways and also public building facades is one possible way of cutting energy costs amid soaring prices, Minister for Public Administration Riina Solman (Isamaa) says.

Speaking at the government's traditional Thursday press-conference, Solman, whose ministerial portfolio equates roughly to being minister for the regions, called for the wise and conservative use of resources.

She said: "We are considering plans in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Communications, and with the Transport Board (Transpordiamet), who have been reducing their lighting in certain places since last year. Turning off the lighting outside monuments and government buildings is also an option."

"As many as 15 percent of local governments have also turned off the heating, and 60 percent of the local governments are planning such a measure. Thirty-eight percent have reduced street lighting and 40 percent of local governments are planning to join them. Thirty-two percent of the local governments are implementing remote work," Solman listed ways of saving money in cities and municipalities.

Solman also said office space usage ought to be rationalized, leaving parts of some public buildings out of use altogether, including at her own ministry.

"In our super-ministry, too, we can increase the use of space: We will accommodate one more ministry or at least one institution in our building."

The "super-ministry" is located between Suur-Ameerika and Väike-Ameerika in central Tallinn, and houses four ministries.

State institutions' combined heating bill last year came to €20 million, the minister went on, adding that figures as to potential savings could be ready from next week; there is some leeway for reducing temperatures from the current average of 22C, Solman added.

Remote working at least one day in a week, cutting hot water in communal areas in office buildings, and reducing air con were also possible areas where cuts could be made, she said.

The government has just signed into force a program for providing assistance to households in paying their energy bills, while a bill which would cap electricity prices to domestic consumers, not only this winter but down to 2026, just passed at the Riigikogu; Solman was referring to public sector and state buildings and institutions, rather than private households or private sector businesses.

She referred also to highway lighting, rather than street lighting in cities.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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