The State Commission for Regulation of Public Utilities has decided to press on those who individually cut off centralized heating and hot water supply. 

According to the draft bill on changes to the law on improvement of relations in the sphere of heating and services of centralized heating and hot water supply, to legally cut off centralized heating and hot water supply will be possible only if the heating system of a settlement, approved by the local government, allows this. In any case, it should not "reduce the reliability and quality of heating and hot water supply services, provided for other consumers."

The MPs explain that individual heating may misbalance the heating systems. Moreover, with prices rise for gas, autonomous consumers will have to pay too much for communal services. One more argument says that centralized heating outage impedes the diversification of fuel types.

ForUm has decided to find out all pros and cons of the given draft bill.

Myroslav Pitsyk, vice president of the Association of Ukraine's cities:

- If a city annually consumes one billion cu m of national gas for heating, with the transition to individual heating systems the city will consume 1.2 billion cu m, because heat production at thermal power plant (TPP) is energy efficient comparing to individual small boilers. Moreover, TPP generates both heat and energy, while boilers produce only heat. Yes, heating in one separate apartment will be cheaper, but the city will consume more gas.

Apart everything, almost all boilers, installed in soviet times, were design to supply all consumers. Back then, individual heating was out of the question. If several hundred or thousand consumers will move to individual heating, heat suppliers will have to burn a part of gas idly.

Besides, take into account the cost of individual heating. A three-room apartment, for example, usually has four radiators, and the installation will cost UAH 1500. Every radiator is connected to the boiler, and such piping system will cost UAH 400. To hide the pipes behind the wall or in the floor will cost UAH 50-100 for a long meter. Dismounting of old pipes will cost 300-500 hryvnias, or 70-80 hrv/m. A boiler of Ukrainian production costs UAH 3000 minimum, and an imported boiler - UAH 6000 minimum. The starting price of installation is UAH 1000. Connection process will also cost some money. Thus, the whole system will cost UAH 25-30 thousand for a three-room apartment, which is not a little for an average family.

Grzegorz Gayda, project manager of the International Financial Cooperation:

- The authorities repeatedly tried to block installation of autonomous heating systems in apartment blocks. In 2006, then vice PM for housing and communal services Volodymyr Rybak spoke for the first time about risks and damages of the decentralization of heating and hot water supply. In 2007 the authorities introduced the moratorium on individual heating, and basing on this documents state officials have been denying citizens to switch to individual boilers. However, there is a possibility to have individual heating, but only if the whole apartment block agrees. Theoretically, it is possible, but practically is hardly probable. Due to various reasons, tenants of an apartment block rarely reach common ground.

Moreover, the draft bill submitted by the State Commission does not fully ban individual heating. The Commission proposes to divide the country's regions into certain zones, for each of which there will regulations on autonomous, individual or centralized heating. Local authorities will choose and approve the type of heating every five years, according to the heating scheme of a settlement. The document must contain economic grounds for projecting and construction of new networks and sources of thermal power.

Ruslan Pavlenko, economist:

- I want to remind that the matter concerns unauthorized outage. The State Commission has toughened the order of transition to individual heating simply because the heating system is old and misbalanced, and because the service is inadaptable for autonomous functioning. On the other hand, with the introduction of this moratorium the suppliers of autonomous equipment may lose the Ukrainian market, and consumers will have to content themselves with services of monopolists.

The fine for unauthorized transition to individual heating will be UAH 1700-2500. State officials, who allow unauthorized transition to individual heating in their regions, will face tougher sanctions - UAH 2500-3400. Moreover, if consumers deny access to their heating units, representatives of heat supply companies can impose fine in the amount of 425-850 hryvnias.

It is fair to say that heating pipes of all 240 thousand apartment blocks of the country are connected to provide stable functioning of the whole system. Any interference will disrupt this functioning. Moreover, house piping system does not have collecting and diffusion channels for combustion products, thus installation of autonomous heating systems will result in air pollution in apartments.
Dmytro Andriyevski, deputy head of the parliamentary committee on construction, city planning and housing services (Batkivshchyna faction):

- Heating supply infrastructure in Ukraine is in a miserable condition. 30% of thermal power produced annually gets lost. In conversion to natural gas, the losses make 2.5 billion cu m or 15% of overall consumption. Moreover, 60% of boiler rooms have worn out, almost 40% of heating points are in a critical condition and 38%of boiler rooms use ineffective and old boilers with low power efficiency.

No surprise that people are interested in individual heating. We are all familiar with failures of heating and hot water supplies. Thus, if the state is not capable to provide decent level of communal services, people choose individual supplies. There are settlements in Ukraine, which have already switched to autonomous heating. The pilot project was successfully implemented in Zorynka town, Luhansk region. Moreover, almost all settlements of Zakarpattya have given up on centralized heating. And more than 10 thousand consumers in Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zhytomyr regions have switched to individual heating. Apart from stable supplies, individual heating is way cheaper. With centralized system people pay UAH 1310 per a thousand cu m, while individual heating costs UAH 725 per a thousand cu m.

Volodymyr Vecherko, deputy head of the parliamentary committee on construction, city planning and housing services (Party of Regions faction):

- The given draft bill has not been submitted to our committee yet. First, it will be considered by legal services of the Cabinet and experts. Judging from experience, law making initiatives undergo significant changes in the process of discussion. However, even the current variant of the draft bill does not ban individual heating as it is, the document just propose to establish tougher control over the procedure.

The issue of autonomous heating does need proper control. It happens sometimes that incorrect installation of individual heating or hot water supply systems in one apartment disrupts the circulation in the whole system, reduces flowing pressure, and as a result, the rest of tenants suffer system failure.

On the other hand, if communal services are incapable to provide proper heating and hot water supplies and tenants offer to take care of it, it is their right, and the state must protect this right and support similar initiatives.  
It means that we need balance. The authorities must control the installation process, but at the same time should not complicate the licensing procedure. Otherwise, people will use cheap electric heaters, which is more dangerous and less effective. When the draft bill arrives in our committee, we will take into account the opinions of all interested parties and experts.


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