Municipal swimming pools and sports facilities will only offer cold showers and public lighting and fountains will be switched off in order to reduce energy consumption by 15% in some German cities.
The decision comes in response to the European Commission’s suggestion that energy-strapped economies hit heaviest by the shortage caused by the war in Ukraine significantly reduce their energy consumption.
On Wednesday, Hanover, a city in northwest Germany, announced the implementation of several emergency energy-saving measures. Hot water will no longer be available in public buildings — meaning that the showers and bathrooms in city-run sports facilities will now run cold. Additionally, public fountains will run a bit drier, and public monuments will remain in the dark as both will be switched off to cut costs in the city home to more than a half million Germans.
The city will also implement a number of heating and cooling regulations in order to prepare for the anticipated winter energy crisis. City-operated buildings will run on reduced heat between the months of October and March and will ban mobile air conditioners, space heaters, and high-energy light fixtures (which will be replaced with low-energy, motion-sensitive LED lights).
Meanwhile, the national government in Berlin is taking more aggressive steps. A draft law that was released Thursday would have consumers paying an additional 1.5 to 5 euro cents fee per kilowatt hour with the proceeds being distributed among energy companies that are struggling to replace Russian gas.
Gazprom, the state-run Russian gas giant, has been throttling gas transfers to Europe. Earlier this month, Russia turned the spigot off for ten straight days, citing an alleged need for maintenance. However, shortly after resuming operation, the energy giant announced that the pipeline would only carry 20% of its maximum capacity moving forward. Again, the state-run company cited maintenance as the cause. In response, earlier this week, the European Commission advised its members to prepare for a complete shutdown of natural gas.
In the case of emergency situations that require a political response from the European bloc, the agreement can institute binding energy-saving targets that require the member states to make immediate cuts.