- Title: UKRAINE: Western town of Zolochiv turns to wood to save on Russian gas bills
- Date: 27th November 2013
- Summary: MRYN, NEAR CHERNIGIV, UKRAINE (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF A GAS TRANSIT STATION
- Embargoed: 12th December 2013 12:00
- Location: Ukraine
- Country: Ukraine
- Topics: Environment,Politics,Energy
- Reuters ID: LVAC3BDL5GUW7ZJ8B2JVATJ1QPJ7
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: A town in western Ukraine is no longer reliant on expensive Russian gas supplies for heating after local authorities decided to burn local wood instead, signalling a possible wave of diversification in the face of rising energy prices.
Zolochiv in the Lviv region made the switch in the hope of saving money after calculating burning local wood offered a much cheaper alternative to gas imported from Ukraine's neighbour Russia.
"Following recent developments in Ukraine, gas has become extremely expensive," chief engineer at the town's power station, Volodymyr Moskva, told Reuters TV.
The town of 25,000 is now saving around 3.5 million UAH (approximately $425000) per winter.
A report by the International Centre for Political Studies in the summer claimed Ukraine is on the verge of energy poverty, predicting 45 percent of households would find it difficult to pay their heating bills as the energy market is liberalised, causing prices to rise to actual market rates. Russia has been offering Ukraine preferential prices for gas and oil imports and changed this policy when the country signalled a need for closer ties with the European Union earlier this year.
Zolochiv uses trees cleared to maintain the health of nearby forests to supply its power station with wood.
"We mainly use wood from cutting down unhealthy trees in the forest. So during the cleaning of the forest, as you've seen, we bring the wood here. We burn it and use it as fuel. Compared to gas prices, it is obviously much cheaper."
A local entrepreneur installed new burners in the power plant in return for a share of the profits.
"The process (of switching from gas to wood) took some time," said Zolochiv's mayor, Igor Grynkiv. "There were some risks. Also there were sceptics saying that firewood was a step backward. Even in the local newspaper, there were headlines asking: "Is it a step forward, or a step backward?!"
Grynkiv said the switch meant the town had managed to stop accumulating dept.
"Today we are no longer transferring money to Russia as a payment for gas and we stopped building up our depts, of which we have accumulated 6.9 million UAH ($860000) by now," he said.
It has also overcome difficulties generating enough power to heat schools and kindergartens.
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