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The main pedestrian street in Lom - 'Dunavska', Source: City of Lom

Bulgarian towns forced to turn off street lights to save on electricity bills

Bulgarian towns forced to turn off street lights to save on electricity bills

The energy crisis in the European Union is putting strain on municipalities as they see their bills quadruple

Europe’s energy price crisis is far from over and it is hitting cities in unexpected places. Yesterday, the mayor of the Bulgarian town of Lom, Georgy Gavrilov, announced that the municipality will turn off street lights in most of the city. He also stated that all municipal buildings are ordered to conserve as much energy as possible, save for kindergartens.

The announcement came after similar measures from the towns of Smolyan, Pomorie, Gorna Oryahovitsa and 50 other local administrations in the country.

Winter bills are hitting the municipality

The move is due to Lom’s December electricity bill, which is nearly four times higher than that from December 2020. The former bill totalled about 15,000 euros, while this year it is around 60,000 euros.

Now, the city has decided to turn off the lights from 18:00 to 23:00 and from 5:00 to 7:00. A notable exception to the rule are the central ‘Dunavska’ and ‘Slavyanska’ streets.

Mayor Gavrilov stressed that businesses, as well as the municipality, purchase their electricity on the free market. He believes that the Bulgarian government needs to step in and establish a form of compensation for local governments.

Other municipalities are taking things into their own hands

A notable counterexample to the situation in Lom is the municipality of Sliven. Back in October, when the European energy crisis was just kicking off, local authorities decided to react and put an estimate on the jump in prices, as well as possible long-term solutions to the problems of electricity supply.

One idea that has been gaining traction in the local council since then is the construction of a municipal photovoltaic (PV) system. While the city has not put forth a concrete project yet, debate in the local council has centred on putting out a public tender.

In October, the city estimated that its electricity bill will quadruple from an average of 500,000 euros. The recent bill, though, sits at around 1.7 million and according to Mayor Stefan Radev, Sliven can handle the pressure.

Yesterday, he came out with the proud announcement that local authorities do not need to economise their current consumption drastically and that a bit of micromanagement could yield sufficient results. He also reaffirmed the city’s plan to work towards establishing local energy production as the main way out.

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