Mayors turn off lights at night to save money: Biterrois

Light pollution, rising energy prices, reasons to turn off city lights are piling up. But for night workers, the measure is still under discussion.

4:30 am, Natalie leaves for work, her headlamp chained to her forehead. Not that she’s a caver, but since October last year, the mayor’s office of Murvielle-les-Béziers has ordered all lights to be turned off from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., with the exception of the circular.

If someone gets through I’ll have a heart attack

Target? Save money in the face of ever-increasing energy costs. Part of the population seems to have taken it well. However, some feel left out: “If someone passes, I have a heart attack, Natalie says with a smile. I didn’t think I was afraid of the dark, but it’s different outside.”

She installed lights in front of her house and parked the car closer to the house. In the morning, she also hopes that there is no frost on the windshield so as not to scratch the glass in the dark.

More fear than harm

Claire thought turning off the city lights was a good idea. Before moving to Murvielles-les-Béziers: “I thought it was cool because I didn’t live it” she said. She works in the restaurant business and sometimes comes home at 1 am. “I turn on the flash of my phone to go home, and as soon as a car passes, I hide.” She doesn’t feel safe in the dark. “Until the light is on, I’ll be scared” she said.

I turn on the flash of my phone to go home, and as soon as a car passes, I hide

Sylvain Hager, mayor of Murvielle-le-Béziers, admits that “some were surprised and afraid to “break their heads””. But for him, turning off the streetlights made no difference. “Fear was only at the level of pedestrian crossings, but we did not observe any accidents”.

According to the Gendarmerie, insecurity has not increased either, given that 80% of burglaries occur in broad daylight. Initially, this experiment was supposed to last six months, but the mayor plans to continue it.

A real headache for some

When Alain Caralp, the mayor of Colombier, wanted to turn off the lights in his city and leave the lights on the road to Nissan, “It was a panic he confesses. Our electrical grid is very anarchic. If we wanted to leave the central axis on, we would have to randomly turn off the streets.”

At that time, the electrical network was laid street by street. Reorganizing all this would have cost enormously. Therefore, in order to save money and solve the environmental problem, the mayor of Colombier decided to install LEDs throughout the city and reduce the voltage at night.

“Given the price of energy, we divide the bill by two or three. It’s a good investment.” he is advancing. The project is scheduled for this year.

Positive influence

“The map of the department is covered by the municipalities that pass through the cape”, says Cassandre Rigaud, who is responsible for energy management at Hérault Énergie. About fifty are currently experiencing it, and more than 70 are considering taking the plunge.

Although electricity bills are likely to rise by up to 40%, mayors have an interest in turning off the lights. “It’s very easy to set up and can save you 30% on a four hour outage. For example, Mauguio-Carnon saved 90,000 euros in a year.”

“You have to adapt to everyone’s life”

The impact on biodiversity is also significant. Artificial light disturbs insects and other nocturnal animals; the same happens with the migration of birds and the development of plants and trees.

For this gesture, which is as environmentally friendly as it is economical, night owls will have to continue to live in the dark. “Who needs light at 3 am? launched by Cassandra Rigaud. However, the goal is not to kill the village. You have to adapt to everyone’s life. If that doesn’t work, we can turn the lights back on very easily.”

As far as municipalities are concerned, we must continue to work on communication. Inform the population and listen to their different needs to enable them to better experience the changes.

Frederic Lacas, Mayor of Serignan: “We will continue”

Over the past five years, the municipality of Serignan has reduced street lighting from 1:00 am to 5:00 am in its residential areas.

Why did you decide to turn off the light?

The goal was to reduce light pollution, but above all save money. Today we will continue. We are in a period of crisis, so all means will be good for savings. We should all unite and bring our stone to the building.

How did your voters react to this action?

At the beginning it was very hard to see. On the one hand, there is always little for environmentalists, and on the other hand, there is always a lot for the population. But for five years, in general, it has become commonplace.

Has uncertainty increased since then?

People say that in the dark there is a risk of rudeness. Intersected with the results of the gendarmerie and finally, there are no more problems.

What are the projects for the future?

Our lamps are very energy intensive. Therefore, we have just awarded a contract to replace 1600 light points and install more efficient ones. This will allow you to save 70% annually, i.e. from 170,000 to 200,000 €.

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