Life without coal: How city near Kyiv lives without hot water and with outages of electricity

Author : Olena Holubyeva

Source :

As it turned out, for a city with population of 25 thousand people, the stop of the thermal power plant became a real catastrophe
18:46, 3 May 2017

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The authorities in Ukraine decided to stop the Trypilska thermal power plant and four more thermal power plants working on anthracite coal, the supply of which from the occupied territories was stopped in connection with the blockade. went to Ukrainka, a city that Trypilska TPP supplies with heat and hot water to see how the stop of supplies affected the lives of citizens. As it turned out, for a city with 25 thousand people population, the stop of the TPP became a real catastrophe.

Ukrainian Switzerland...

Ukrainka is a satellite city of Kyiv, located only 30 km from the capital. Jokingly it is called "the city of working dads". In the daytime, you may have an impression that the main population of Ukrainka is moms with strollers and their babies. More than half of the residents work in Kyiv and return home only in the evening. From the Vydubychi subway stations to Ukrainka the minibus arrives in just over 40 minutes. The trip costs 18 UAH. In Ukrainka, even the local kindergarten works until later time than in other cities – because of parents working in Kyiv.

Ukrainka is a very beautiful, green city surrounded by three rivers. Here you can go for a walk, fish, or have a beautiful picnic. No murder, no crime, no armed robberies. Children return home from schools and walking without accompanying parents. People call the city Ukrainian Switzerland, or flower-town, for the abundance of flowers and the cleanliness of the streets.

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Despite the fact that the price of apartment per square meter in Ukrainka is one of the highest in Obukhov direction (about 13 thousand UAH), people are buying flats in local new buildings like hot cakes. Among other things, it is compensated by the fact that the utilities fee in Ukrainka is lower than in Kyiv (about 700 UAH per month for a one-room apartment). In the city, young families live happily, wealthy people bought housing for retired parents. On the level of life here eloquently speaks the fact that, as of April 1, only 18.6% of townspeople had housing subsidies.

Among other bonuses for Ukrainka citizens until recently, it was also that the apartments have always been warm, and with the hot water thanks to the Trypilska TPP. By the way, the pipes of the TPP are the first thing you see when you enter the city from the side of Kozyn. Actually, during the Soviet era, Ukrainka was built as a city of power engineers, workers of the Trypilska TPP (the first power unit was launched on April 22, 1969). This year, both the city and the station celebrate 50 years since its foundation. About 1,500 residents of the city's 25,000 people are employees of TPP.

But on April 5 Trypilska TPP stopped. The jubilee was not a success. Probably, even the expectation of smoke from the pipe of the Sistine Chapel never caused such dramatic tension with which the Ukrainka citizens now expect a renewal of smoke from the pipes of their TPP.

... Without hot water and heat

Trypilska TPP regularly supplied the city with hot water and heat. For this reason, in Ukrainka there was never a need for an alternative boiler house for the needs of the entire city or even a mini-boiler house for socially important facilities.

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But due to the cold snap, which came with the cyclone last week, residents of Ukrainka began to massively turn on air conditioners for heating, electric heaters, and someone even boilers.. But the city power grids turned out to be completely unprepared for a rapidly increasing load. Disconnections of electricity began: we saw blackouts of entire neighborhoods, residents of which for three or more hours were sitting without light while the repair teams were working.

And the biggest problem from halting work of TPP is that the heating season in Ukraine became under serious question, emphasizes the Mayor of Ukrainka Pavlo Kozyrev.

According to the mayor, there is only 30 thousand tons of coal left in the warehouses of Trypilska TPP. This will be enough for one power plant’s block only for a few days. It was also proposed to transfer the station to work on gas coal, which is mined in Western Ukraine. These plans were announced at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers by the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Igor Nasalik.

"Gas coal is a fire hazard, it requires not only modernization of TPP facilities, but also re-equipment of warehouses, transport," the mayor said.

According to unofficial data, investments in modernization may amount to UAH 50 million.

The mayor also admits that the current situation in the city will certainly lead to a certain pause in the demand for apartments in Ukrainka. "Until the issue with coal is resolved, no one will invest in apartments," he notes.

But what is most disturbing for Ukrainka authorities, is the fact that case with TPP showed: the problem of providing heat to the city became a problem only for its residents.

"What worries me is the very system of government in this form, when people do not understand what they are doing." When Trypilska TPP stopped, it was known back in January, and during this time the government system had to calculate all the challenges and risks. It is clear that for the unified power system the stop of the Trypilska TPP is not a problem, but this is a source of heat supply for the whole city, and the same situation is now in other cities where TPPs have stopped, " Kozyrev said.

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Reasons for stopping TPP

The press service of Centrenergo notes that the reason for the stop of TPPs work was the blockage of transportation of anthracite group steam coal from uncontrolled territories. In addition, one of the reasons for the stop is the need to accumulate anthracite coal under these conditions to "ensure a stable and reliable passage of the summer maximum."

"The termination of supplies of coal grades P and AH (anthracite group) from coal-mining enterprises that were in the area of ATO led to an intensive taking of fuel residues in the storage facility," the press service said.

At the same time, the Minister Igor Nasalik, at the last meeting of the Cabinet, outlined a different version of the stop of Trypilska TPP.

"I want to show you the Rivne-Kyivska power line, which will be introduced in June, with which we would be able to compensate 400-600 MW of the surplus (of electricity, ed.), which we have in the western regions, in particular in Rivne and Khmelnytsky. We are completing this project, which will provide an opportunity to fully supply Kyiv city and Kyiv region with 1,000 MW, and it is exactly the implementation of this project until September that made it possible to completely stop the Trypilska TPP, which operates on anthracite coal, "Nasalik said.

He noted that stopping the station "ecologically" helped Kyiv and its region.

And at the same time, apparently, it helped Kozyn - elite village, which is located next to Ukrainka. Exactly there, according to media reports, on the 3,3 hectare site the house of the President Petro Poroshenko’s family and the homes of other representatives of the country's political elite are located.

The future without coal

The mayor of Ukrainka Pavlo Kozyrev says that even if Trypilska TPP resumes its work, the city would have an understanding that such problems they will fight constantly. "TPP has no future, Ukraine has ratified the Paris Agreement, according to which it will gradually have to give up using coal," he said.

In this regard, the city is looking for an alternative option to create a source that could serve as Trypilska TPP to provide the city with heat and hot water. However, the mayor did not disclose the options.

In addition, according to him, the city is trying to solve another problem related to the neighborhood to Trypilska TPP. This is the presence of overflowing ash dumps (waste after coal processing) in the industrial zone.

"From now on, we have this problem constantly," says Kozyrev, "people come here to us, they say what an amazing nature you have, what a beauty. And we have the 20 times excess of the maximum permissible level of harmful substances." This radioactive ash, we inhale it, you spend the morning on the balcony, and there this gray dust, " Kozyrev said.

Mayor added that the city repeatedly appealed to Centrenergo with a request to transfer the ash dumps to its balance. "We asked, give them to us, we either recycle, or find a business, that is, we will do something to solve the problem, but there is no reaction from them."

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