A view of Cologne's Cathedral Church of St. Peter , Source: Ravi Tripathi / Unsplash

Germany ends energy austerity but some cities want to stick with it

Germany ends energy austerity but some cities want to stick with it

The measures were introduced to help the country avoid blackouts during the winter

This week, the German federal law mandating energy-saving measures in municipalities is about to run out.  The date is 15 April and officials have not announced amendments or extensions to the bill, however, some city officials have said that they will keep a version of the energy austerity measures for the foreseeable future.

Originally, the law was introduced in October and aimed to limit the use of energy and natural gas, after Russia suspended natural gas deliveries through the Nord Stream pipelines. Also, it followed the direction of an EU decision to limit energy consumption by 15%.

The results of the measures

Some of the energy-saving measures for municipalities included lowering the temperature of public swimming pools and many prominent buildings had to go dark while some cities even had streetlight curfews.

Moreover, some municipalities even published guides on what to do in the event of a prolonged blackout. Yet, the winter turned out to be quite mild and savings targets were easily met. According to preliminary data, electricity consumption in Germany fell by around 4% compared to 2021 and gas consumption fell by 14% and can currently boast a gas storage capacity full to around 60%.

Cities like energy savings

Cologne Cathedral, which went dark during the winter months, was illuminated again to celebrate Easter on 9 April. Moreover, according to a report by Tagesschau, the city’s chief architect explained that the Cathedral now has a LED light system which uses 50% to 70% less energy compared to conventional lights.

Yet, the city plans to continue to save energy through public lights on buildings and monuments. City Director (Stadtdirektorin) Andrea Blome pointed out that a change would send the wrong signal considering the climate crisis and the ongoing war in Ukraine, putting global pressure on the energy supply.

The city of Hilden, in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, had turned off hot water in schools, gyms and public buildings last summer. While the warm water was turned back on in October for schools and gyms, the city’s admin building taps still only deliver cold water.

According to local officials, this will remain the case for the time being. Mayor Claus Pommer pointed out that the city managed to use 27% less gas in all municipal buildings, compared to the year before.

On the other hand, Dortmund, for instance, plans to turn street and public lights back on to help citizens with their sense of security.



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