Beginning September 23, the city of Paris will turn off the Eiffel Tower’s famous lights at 11:45pm rather than the usual 1am. The landmark’s extra hour and 15 minutes of darkness is part of Paris’s plan to cut power use by 10% in the face of soaring energy prices.
The Eiffel Tower, which attracts 7 million tourists per year, boasts 20,000 lightbulbs and almost 25 miles of string lights and electrical cords, and normally displays a five-minute light show every hour.
France, however, is attempting to lower its power use as Russia — in an effort to limit support to Ukraine — has decreased its supply of natural gas to Europe. The squeeze has increased power costs and pushed the continent toward a recession.
In response, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a 10% cut in energy use last week, and on Tuesday, September 13, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced her city’s plan to achieve the drop. Paris will turn on the heat in administrative buildings a month late (depending on this winter’s severity), decrease the temperatures inside those buildings, and shut off the lights on other monuments and municipal buildings at 10pm.
“France will always be the City of Light,” Hidalgo said.
Conserving energy now may prevent the possibility of power outages this winter, but economic troubles in Europe remain. Today, September 14, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her annual State of the European Union address and listed emergency measures in response to high gas prices. Those included usage cuts, profit taxes on companies selling power above a set price, and a “solidarity contribution” from fossil fuel companies. And in the Netherlands, the government is calling for five-minute showers to use up less hot water and help build up the nation’s gas reserves.