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Cities in Germany limiting heating, turning off spotlights to save gas as Russia slashes fuel supply

Business Insider US
  • German capital Berlin is turning off 1,400 spotlights highlighting historic monuments and buildings.
  • Munich and Hanover are taking similar steps, including limiting heating ahead of winter.
  • Germany is facing an energy crisis as major supplier Russia has cut natural-gas supply.
  • Cities in Germany are turning off the lights and heating in an effort to save natural gas and build up reserves ahead of winter.

Berlin, Germany's capital, started turning off 1,400 spotlights highlighting 200 historic monuments and municipal buildings from Wednesday, according to the city's Senate Department for the Environment, Urban Mobility, Consumer Protection and Climate.

"In view of the war against Ukraine and Russia's energy policy threats, it is important that we use our energy as carefully as possible," said Bettina Jarasch, Berlin's senator for the environment.

The city of Munich — famed for the Oktoberfest beer event — has announced it will be switching off spotlights on historic buildings and limiting heating, the DPA reported on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, the northwestern city of Hanover has turned off hot water in all public buildings, making it the first big city in Germany to do so, according to Bild. "The situation is unpredictable," said Hanover mayor Belit Onay. 

The measures come after the European Union on Tuesday approved an emergency proposal for member states to cut gas consumption from August to March.

Germany, an industrial powerhouse and Europe's biggest economy, is reliant on piped natural gas from Russia, which accounts for 35% of the country's imports of the fuel. But Russia has been slowing natural-gas flows via a major pipeline, citing technical issues due to sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. 

The developments have pushed up power bills as European natural-gas futures have tripled this year so far. German consumers are set to pay higher power bills in the months ahead as a gas surcharge is set to kick in to keep energy companies from collapsing.

"We can't say yet how much gas will cost in November, but the bitter news is it's definitely a few hundred euros per household," said German economy minister, Robert Habeck, per the BBC.

German industry leaders are warning of severe economic hardship should Russian gas be cut completely. Earlier this month, the country's top union official said entire industries could collapse in such a scenario, wiping out jobs. On Monday, amid the threats of a gas shortage and soaring inflation, a popular measure of German business confidence slumped to its lowest level since June 2020.

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