Rjukan Church in Tinn, eastern Norway, has shut up shop except for advent until the spring due to soaring electricity prices, local paper Rjukan Arbeidblad reported this week.
“We are doing it to save electricity. Rjukan Church is made of stone and concrete and is expensive to heat. Electricity has become far more expensive, and we have already used up the electricity budget for 2021,” Susann Myhra Stryvold, guardian for the church, told the newspaper.
High electricity prices pose a problem to congregations throughout eastern Norway, and several churches told broadcaster NRK they are struggling to keep the lights on.
“We have already spent 200,000-300,000 kroner more on electricity than last year,” Kjetil Gjerde, trustee of a church in Ringerike, told the public broadcaster.
“With today’s electricity prices, we will go 120,000 kroner over our budget this year,” Sigrid Kobro Strensrød, a churchwarden in Larvik, said to NRK.
It’s a similar story in the capital, Oslo.
“We do not have the budget to pay current electricity prices. This is a serious situation,” Finn Folke Thorp, communications manager for Oslo’s joint church council said.
Churches, particularly old stone ones, use massive amount of electricity to heat.
“Large stone churches are expensive to heat, so we have moved some events to other churches and premises,” Gjerde, trustee for a church in Ringerike, explained.
Thorp says that the closure of some churches in Oslo is being considered should the high prices endure.
“A radical move we can take is to close some of the churches, but the final decision lies with the churches,” Thorp, who manages communications for Oslo’s church council, said.