Heat compensation for vulnerable consumers by municipal authorities subsidizes energy inefficiency, although the allocated money could be used to invest in substitution programs for old electric hotplates on modern electric hotplates and to install individual heat points in non-gas-connected blocks. These are some of the conclusions of the public discussion "Energy poverty and vulnerable consumers in Chisinau: costs, compensations and sustainability", organized by IDIS "Viitorul" on 10 April.
"Energy poverty is a problem of society and not just a problem of public authorities or associations of tenants. By addressing the issues of vulnerable consumers, we also help energy providers. And the solutions we propose hope to become legislative changes to enable consumers to better manage their energy poverty”, said the moderator Veaceslav Ioniță.
According to the decision of the Chisinau Municipal Council of November 27, 2018, the inhabitants of the municipality whose apartments are equipped with electric hobs have to be compensated by 25% of the cost of the electricity bill consumed for November and December 2018. However, the payments have not been transferred to the beneficiaries even if about 2 million lei were allocated from the municipal budget. "The responsibility is passed from one to another, and on the Chisinau Town Hall webpage, there is already a draft amendment to the November decision indicating the option to pay 100 lei per apartment and not the 25% compensation as initially foreseen. The problem remains in the air and unresolved", says Viorel Pîrvan, lawyer at IDIS "Viitorul”.
In turn, energy expert Victor Parlicov, believes that heat compensation is not necessarily a solution to the problem of energy poverty, and solutions would be other. "Chisinau Town Hall offers compensations subsidizing inefficient energy consumption. In this way, energy inefficiency is promoted. Compensations are provided for people who consume energy that could be saved. Money should be invested for different programs, and monthly compensation will be no longer needed", says Victor Parlicov. In this context, the expert proposes to (re)connect the consumers to the centralized system with individual thermal points and to develop a program for changing the old electric hotplates on the new ones, energy efficient (similar to the "Rabla" program in Romania for cars).
An example of energy efficiency in this respect is the SA "Termoelectrica" project for modernization of the domestic hot water heating by installing the horizontal distribution and installing the individual thermal point in the basement block on 52 Pandurilor str. This allowed reducing the invoice to thermal energy by 40% and to electricity twice. In March 2009, the heating energy consumption for the heating of the block of flats on Pandurilor Street constituted 5 lei/sqm, while in the other blocks of the town this cost is 20 lei.
"We are in favor of replacing the electric hobs and reconnecting with the centralized domestic hot water system. And we are ready with the Municipal Council to participate and see what proposals and investments are needed so that the population can consume hot water at reasonable prices and thus solve the problem of vulnerable groups and other consumers. From the thermal point of view, we can provide a quality and affordable service", explains Victor Puiu, commercial director "Termoelectrica".
Energy poverty is a complex issue and must become a priority for Moldova's national policies, especially in the economic ones, according to Corina Gaibu: "Energy efficiency must be correlated with economic efficiency. Investments in energy efficiency are recovered in about 10 years, and the installation of LEDs in the home may reduce this period. However, there are tenants who can not afford these investments, and in this case municipal or state programs that will allow the emergence of energy-efficient blocks and the diminution of energy, are needed", says Corina Gaibu. At the same time, the energy expert, Sergiu Ungureanu, proposes direct contracting: "Energy efficiency must be ensured both by the supplier and the consumer, including by switching to the individual system of contracting, charging and regulation. When the consumer, without knowing, gets a bill of thousands of lei to heat, there is some economic inequity".
The residential sector is the largest consumer of energy, accounting for about 45% of the final energy consumption in Moldova, multi-story residential blocks amounting to almost 160 million m.p. or 60% of the housing stock. At the same time, the residential housing stock accounts for 98% of the total liabilities to the heat supplier. In this respect, HOAs managers propose that the amount of invoices be staggered throughout the year. "We are in a state of liquidation because of the supplier and government because the tenants have nothing to pay for the heat. We are in such confusion because the association has a debt of 6 million lei, money that cannot be demanded from vulnerable tenants", said APLP 51/173 manager, Alla Poltavcenco.
Also, during the public event, the first web portal dedicated to the management of housing blocks in Chisinau - www.blocuri.viitorul.org was presented. The website contains useful information for citizens regarding owners' associations: legislation, analyzes and successful histories, contacts of Chisinau owners associations, news, events, solutions for tenants and housing managers, etc.
According to Eurostat, the share of electricity costs in household incomes in the Republic of Moldova is 3.4%, much higher than in other countries, and this situation is similar to the natural gas (7%) and heating sector (11.4% %).
The event was held within the initiative "Support for poor energy consumers", implemented by the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) "Viitorul", with the financial support of the World Jewish Relief Foundation. It aims to strengthen owner associations to become a powerful voice for vulnerable energy consumers in policy making.
For details, contact Ana – Maria Veverita: firstname.lastname@example.org or at phone number (0 22) 221844