Defense ministry implementing energy bill savings measures

Ministry of Defense building in Tallinn.
Ministry of Defense building in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Ministries in Estonia are starting to implement energy cost-saving measures on agencies or organizations which are subordinate to them, with cuts viable in some areas more than others.

Public sector managers have in fact been seeking energy cost-saving measures since last winter, when soaring energy prices first became a major issue, but the approaching autumn has led to the stepping-up in the search for solutions.

Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman (Isamaa) has issued guidelines for the entire sector, which the Ministry of Defense, for instance, has largely followed.

Ministry of Defense Secretary General Kusti Salm said restrictions on agencies under the ministry's remit will mean: "Indoors, the temperature will be set at 19C during the heating period (October to March – ed.). Electric underfloor heating is forbidden during this period, as is the use of energy-intensive devices - washing machines, sauna heaters - during the daytime hours," adding that reduced outdoor lighting would also be put in place.

However, the Ministry of Culture says such measures are not always viable, given the wide range of different institutions which are subordinate to it (including public broadcaster ERR – ed.).

Tarvi Sits, Secretary General at the Ministry of Culture, said: "We have 50 different institutions, from offices to theaters, museums, national broadcasting etc., and these energy needs and their differing contracts are complicated enough."

"Perhaps it is not wise to send a general message to do things exactly this way or that way. There must be light on the stage; actors cannot be performing in the dark, unless the stage is set that way for artistic purposes," Sits went on.

Joonas Tartu, CEO at Noorsooteatr, one institution under the culture ministry's aegis, told ERR that there was not much scope for making cuts, while newly-installed ventilation systems are among the most energy-demanding aspects of consumption.

The prison service will see some cuts, but again, the institution does not lend itself to too many of these, the justice ministry says.

Rait Kuuse, Deputy Secretary General at the Ministry of Justice, said: "Since we have people living there, we have to make sure that their conditions are also acceptable. We can't switch everything off - electricity, heating. It's difficult for us to do all this, because it automatically means that we have other risks arise, and these other risks can have a bad effect on Estonia's internal security," said

By year-end, Estonia's three main prisons will be in the red to the tune of about a month's-worth of bills, ERR reports; some leased administrative buildings in Jõhvi are to be relinquished and the functions conducted there relocated to the main Viru Prison, also situated in Jõhvi.

Hospitals naturally have even less scope for energy cuts.

For many institutions, additional state support funding is the only viable solution.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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