Norwegian Churches Go Cold Amid High Electricity Prices

Churches across Norway say their electricity budget has already been spent, which may leave some of them ice-cold during Christmas time, the Christian newspaper Dagen reported.

About 90 percent of Norwegian churches have electric heating – and a lot of space to heat. Pressed for funds amid a spike in electricity prices, they’re keeping some church rooms cold to save money.

The Joint Church Council in Oslo is considering reducing the temperature inside the churches to 15 degrees, which is far below the norm.“The reality is quite dramatic. The electricity budget was spent a long time ago,” assistant churchwarden Olav Fraser Lende in Oslo told Dagen.

In other parts of the country, some churches closed down as early as October in a bid to cut electricity bills. According to the newspaper Vårt Land, churches in southern Norway alone spent up to NOK 400,000 ($45,000) more on electricity than usual in the autumn.

Svein Askekjær, church warden in Drammen Church Council called the high electricity prices a big challenge. He said that there is ultimately no alternative to closing the churches in the municipality, and is ready to go to great lengths to avoid it.

“Lowering the temperature in the church room by one or two degrees can help us a lot. At the same time, we do not want people who use our churches to freeze. Then something is terribly wrong,” Askekjær told Vårt Land.

Churchwarden Andreas Eidsaa said that the churches in Sandnes are also struggling. He hopes for the municipality to contribute more funds, otherwise they will have to lay off people or cut at the maintenance budget.

“But if we do not manage to reach an arrangement with the municipality, we will also be forced to implement new measures,” he told Dagen.

Electricity prices have risen sharply in recent months, reaching record highs in southern Norway over the course of the autumn. The spike has been attributed to a generally high price level across Europe, and an unlucky combination of weak winds and low water levels in reservoirs.

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