Submitted by Erin Concors

At a recent municipal forum event, mayors and government officials from across Ukraine thanked USAID for its work in reforming Ukraine’s heating sector. Hundreds of local and national government workers flocked to the Sixth Ukrainian Municipal Forum on Sept. 9 and 10 in Yalta. Janina Jaruzelski, Director of the USAID Regional Mission for Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, gave opening remarks, launching the Energy Efficiency Month awareness campaign implemented by the USAID Municipal Heating Reform Project.

An ad from the Energy Efficiency Campaign in Kiev. Translation reads: You don’t know how to warm up?" Further text reads, "Close the door and the entryway -- all apartments will warm up by 2 degrees Celsius. Save Heat, Save Ukraine!"Photo Credit: USAID/Ukraine

Since February 2009, the USAID project has initiated systematic changes in Ukraine’s heating sector at the national and municipal level, and for end users. The project works closely with the Government of Ukraine and 36 municipalities across the country. Supporting the effort, the project last year launched a “Save Heat – Save Ukraine” information campaign on energy efficiency. Through public service announcements, billboards and media, the campaign encourages citizens to take an active personal role in energy conservation. It includes programs for schoolchildren in how to conserve heat and make their schools and homes more energy efficient. The campaign also promotes forming condominium owner associations as a way for citizens to better manage their utility costs.

USAID’s work in energy efficiency has very practical implications for Ukrainian cities like Kramatorsk, whose Deputy Mayor, Stanislav Zakharov, thanked USAID for its support during his presentation. Like hundreds of Ukrainian towns and cities, providing efficient district heating has been a major problem in this eastern Ukrainian municipality due to its crumbling infrastructure and lack of funding for upgrading facilities, which were built in the 1950s and 60s. The city of approximately 200,000 residents is working with USAID to develop a municipal plan to improve energy efficiency, and recently completed a comprehensive audit of its heating system, which proposed solutions for energy efficiency and service quality improvement. Based on the audit’s recommendations, the city and USAID will co-finance and modernize the municipal heating system in one of the city districts. This modernization will make about 100 residential and public buildings warmer and more comfortable for the district’s 40,000 residents – while at the same time, saving up to 15 percent of its energy consumption.

“USAID is providing support to strengthen the legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks necessary to improve heating systems, better regulate tariffs and implement measures to provide an effective social safety net, to ensure that the reform process does not leave needy Ukrainians literally out in the cold,” Jaruzelski said in her remarks.