Cebu City limits use of Christmas lights to cut electricity costs

CEBU City Hall’s huge electric bill, amounting to around P17 million a month, has prompted the City Council to ask barangays, the Department of Public Services (DPS), the Parks and Playgrounds Commission and the committee on transportation, communication and energy and all other concerned offices to implement measures that will reduce electricity consumption during the Christmas season.

City Councilor Nestor Archival, in his resolution, suggested setting a timer on Christmas lights so these are lit only between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily.

Archival also suggested using energy-saving materials for decorations, such as Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Christmas lights and other local and indigenous materials.

He said decorations with highly reflective properties, such as festive ornaments and tinsel, will also do as their illumination gives an illusion of Christmas lights.

He said Christmas season is an opportunity for local government units to display and show the beauty of the city through the use of series lights and Christmas decorations that result in more energy and electricity consumption.

“Due to the decorations and extra lighting during this joyous season, the City, in consequence, also pays a hefty amount of electric bill as Christmas decors and lights result in more energy and electricity consumption,” he said.

Department of General Services officer-in-charge June Maratas said the City’s monthly electric bill is between P16 and P17 million a month.

This covers street lights, parks and playgrounds and offices of the Cebu City Government, he said.

This Christmas, the City will also pay for the electricity consumed by the giant Christmas tree at the Fuente Osmeña Circle, he said.

The Christmas tree was first set up by the M. Lhuillier Group of Companies in 2000 as a “symbol of peace, hope and charity.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Edgardo Labella announced during his media conference Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, that the City Government would have its Christmas lighting at the Plaza Sugbo on Dec. 2.

He said it is not the City’s responsibility to shoulder the electric bill of the city’s 80 barangays.

Street Lighting Division head Felicito Josol, speaking at the Citizen’s Hour during the City Council’s regular session on Nov. 19, said the electric bill for street lights alone reached P12 million a month.

Of the 30,971 lampposts around Cebu City, only 687 use LED lights, which consume less electricity, he said. The rest use sodium lights, which consume more power.

However, the data he presented are not updated, he said.

Councilor Archival said the City can save up to 50 percent on its electric bill once all the sodium lights are replaced with LED lights.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama then created an ad hoc committee that will conduct a survey to determine the exact number and location of the lampposts.

The committee is led by Councilor Antonio Cuenco, committee on transportation, communication and energy chairman. Members include Archival; City Councilors Jerry Guardo, Franklyn Ong and Eduardo Rama Jr.; Maratas; DPS officer-in-charge Joel Biton; Josol; and representatives from Visayan Electric.

The ad hoc committee will conduct a joint survey every month, starting December, until March 2020, and report its inventory every last Tuesday of the month during the council’s regular session.

In another development, City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia clarified that they cannot immediately move the council’s regular session to every Wednesday of the month, saying this is against their House Rules.

Section 4 of the council’s House Rules states that “any amendment to these rules shall be presented in writing and shall be approved by a vote of two-thirds of all the members of the Sanggunian. Provided, no part of these rules shall be amended within one year from the effectivity of the said rules, or within one year immediately preceding a regular local election.”

Garcia said they will continue to hold their regular sessions on Tuesday, adding that any proposed change of schedule will take effect only in June 2020. (JJL)