In December, as night falls, the towns and villages of Moselle begin to sparkle. Even more than elsewhere, the tradition of illuminations here becomes a form of competition. Between the owners of houses, balconies, between cities too, who invest thousands of euros every year in light patterns. In this little game, the town of Rombas, in the heart of the industrial valley of the Orne, enjoys a certain reputation. Every year, people come from far and wide to admire the “Winter Feast”, a large luminous and poetic installation, on the town hall square. In all, municipal officials install 600 light patterns each year in this municipality of 10,000 inhabitants. A work of several months, which usually begins in September.
But this year, 80% of these designs will remain in the warehouse. “An exceptional crisis, exceptional measures”can we read in the last issue of the municipal bulletin. “It is true that we are touching on a very sentimental subject, admits the socialist mayor, Lionel Fournier. But this decision was not very difficult to make. We cannot ask our fellow citizens to make an effort to reduce their energy consumption and, at the same time, light up the whole town at Christmas. Psychologically, it would not pass. We must be exemplary. » To preserve “Christmas Spirit”the mayor has however decided to maintain the “Winter Magic” and the illuminations close to the schools.
Biomass boiler room
With this measure, the municipality of Rombas expects a saving of 30,000 euros. “This money will be fully reinvested in the campaign to replace our public lighting with LEDs which dim after 11 p.m.says Lionel Fournier. This will allow us to go faster than expected in terms of energy sobriety. » For the municipality, the economic stakes are enormous. “Just for public lighting, our annual bill will increase from 75,000 euros to 350,000 euros in 2023. Overall, soaring energy prices cost us between 500,000 and 600,000 euros in a full year. It is colossal, insofar as our operating budget is 11 million euros. I believe that the public is not yet aware of what awaits us in the coming months. It will be a tsunami…”
However, Rombas is not the municipality most to complain about in this area. This thanks to what Mr. Fournier calls « d’intuition ». “A few years ago, I felt that energy was going to become a vulnerable position for local authorities”, he recalls. Through its local electricity company, the municipality therefore invested 6.7 million euros to buy a transformer from ArcelorMittal and operate it, in order to save the costly fees billed by Enedis, the EDF subsidiary responsible for management of the electricity distribution network.
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