Lights out: French towns and cities cutting street lighting to save energy

Towns and cities across France are cutting back on street lighting as part of the country's energy-saving plan for winter.

Lights out: French towns and cities cutting street lighting to save energy
(Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

More towns and cities including Toulouse and Lyon will start turning off street lights late at night from October 31st in order to save energy.

A day after the clocks went back in France to save daylight, Toulouse will start turning off street lights in areas away from the city’s hypercentre and busy areas from midnight until 5am daily; lights in Lyon will be turned off between 2am and 4.30am from Sunday to Wednesday weekly.

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Meanwhile, a number of towns in the Pyrénées-Orientales, including Argelès-sur-Mer, Toulouges, Sainte-Marie, will also turn off the lights at night, joining numerous other smaller communes that have already decided to save energy and money by cutting power when most people are in bed.

In many villages street lights already turn off in the early hours of the morning, and many local authorities have decided to bring forward the switch-off time – eg turning off the lights at 11pm rather than midnight.

Street lighting is the second-highest contributor, after public buildings, to the energy bill of local authorities, representing a total 31 percent of expenditure, according to a government report on energy sobriety published earlier in October. 

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“All these advances are good to take,” Thierry Salomon, engineer and spokesman for negaWatt, an association that promotes energy savings and efficiency, told Le Parisien. 

“It allows us to cut our energy expenses, and reduce our tax burden on individuals. Less electricity means less impact on the environment. It is better for … humans, but also plants and trees that will be less exposed to artificial lights.

“Finally, it is beneficial from a geopolitical point of view. By lowering our consumption, we increase our resilience.”

It would also have an effect on light pollution, he noted.

Other cities, including Paris, have decided not to reduce street lighting for safety reasons. The association 60 millions de piétons pointed out that 30 percent of pedestrian deaths in the street occur in November, December and January. 

The association is concerned that the number of accidents involving pedestrians will increase, and has advised evening walkers to wear light clothing at night, so they are easier to see.

It also highlighted personal safety concerns for people walking in the dark.

As of November 1, shops, offices and associations in Paris will be obliged to switch off signs and screens as soon as their premises are closed, or face fines of between €750 and €1,500.

A month later, the extinction of illuminated advertising will come into force in the streets and public transport from 11.45pm to 6am, six months before a nationwide law takes effect – a city-wide rule that will affect 3,000 digital screens and 1,630 illuminated adverts on street furniture.

READ ALSO France bans overnight illuminated advertising in energy-saving drive

A two square metre panel consumes electricity as lighting and appliances in a household, according to Green MP Dan Lert.

Member comments

  1. I have been reading about energy saving in France like using fewer lights. After shopping for a day in Toulouse I have a suggestion for saving a lot more energy. Every store that I visited had the heating turned up high even though the temperature outside was 26C. Even the large underground parking was hot. I wonder why the government is not looking into this instead of lights?

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Seven European nations, including Germany, had previously planned for their captains to wear the armband, but backed down over FIFA’s warning.

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Borne’s visit to Germany was her first since she was named to her post in May.

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