Kyrgyz government asked citizens to save electricity and stock up on coal for heating in winter and prepare meals using this "relatively inexpensive form of fuel." In order to maintain stable power supply in winter the Cabinet found that it is necessary to disable the three-phase inputs to residential users, who use them for heating, to ban electric heating and switch entertainment facilities, saunas, car washes to another type of heating, and disconnect the equipment of enterprises using electricity for heat of metal.
Whether such "care" of officials will entail social explosion and whether opposition will use this situation as in 2010, for the change of power? After all, unpopular measures enacted during the presidency of Kurmanbek Bakiyev are still fresh in the memory of Kyrgyzstanis, when people were called to stock manure and electricity tariffs were increased. 24.kg news agency asked its respondents these questions.
Azamat Arapbaev, the Deputy of Parliament, the member of the Parliamentary Committee on Fuel and Energy Complex and Subsoil Use:
- The Prime Minister urged the population to save energy, and the Ministry of Energy conducts certain activities on cutting off individual subscribers. This is a move owing to desperation. Since independence, all have seen: there is a rapid construction, the development of the economy in the new enterprises are put into operation. But today we only use what is left as a legacy from the Soviet Union. And only now some energy projects began to operate. These are Bishkek Heating and Power Plant, "Datka" substation and others.
Of course, some opposition parties and certain politicians will attempt to take advantage of this moment and to blame the government, the president. As a person, not an outside of energy, I can responsibly say that the government has gone to such a move because of desperation. So I hope that the people of Kyrgyzstan will react to such measures with understanding. We know the experience of Georgia in the early 2000s, when the population came out to protest, but not with the requirement to give energy, but to provide electricity supply schedule in order to have time to do all their business.
-Do you have three-phase overhead transmission line at home?
- No, I live in the storied house.
- Leo Vasiliev, the former head of Bishkek Heating and Power Plant, the City Council deputy:
- Indeed, we can't escape nature, as well as periods of low water. Now we are taking all possible, we are holding intensive negotiations with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. I think that every effort will be made for passing the season in order the equipment to operate properly. We will have to operate in no margin for error. Of course, it won't be easy. The price of coal, look, has already soared up, it has probably never been such high at that time. At the weekend I was in Karakol, where a ton of coal costs over 4,000 soms. It's very hard for people. But we must endure, not to succumb to possible provocations. Once again I repeat: nature is nature.
- Why is electricity consumption growing?
- Only at the expense of electric heating. Remember last winter: hundreds of houses are built, and the smoke from the chimneys can be seen rarely. Well, buildings are heated not by some miracle! It means they use electricity. Of course, the easiest way is to switch on the boiler or "throw" on the line, but unplanned loads lead to failure of the transmission lines and substations. We'll have to tighten control.
- What do you think, whether houses of officials will be disconnected from three-phase input? Or, as always, simple citizens of Kyrgyzstan will have to be responsible?
- I think that the officer himself must primarily be a worthy citizen of the country. Well, at least someone worries about the country!
Valentina Kasymova, a member of the supervisory board on the initiative of transparency in the fuel and energy complex under the Ministry of Energy:
-Calling for the economy requires a clear energy saving policy at the state level, developing standards, and not speaking groundlessly. Who will save - without specific developed regulations? Yes, there is a law on energy saving, but it does not work. It needs delegated acts. We need a national body that would deal directly with energy saving, as in other countries. We do not have it. And Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus have all documented, and try not to make it! There are penalties as well as benefits are provided for the economy and so on. So as soon as we have shortage of water period, we remember the problem.
And whether people will understand government appeals? It is necessary to ask people themselves, to conduct a broad information campaign on economical use of energy resources, lectures, public hearings, and then public opinion poll. I myself have three-phase transmission line and now I'm puzzled over how to be in such a situation. I will learn about the briquettes whether they are released in our country.
Ernest Karybekov, the head of the institute for research on problems of water management and water and energy resources in Central Asia:
- I do not know whether anyone will take advantage of this situation, but there will be a social explosion, exactly. Constraints in the supply of electricity will be up to 40 percent. This will affect not only people, but also small and medium-sized businesses, what, respectively, will result in a budget shortfall of taxes.
The fact that all the new high-rise buildings are not connected to the central heating, they have only electric heating. There was no need to give them technical specifications. We should have forecast, some systematic approach, and technical specifications were ladled out. Today, people should stock up on charcoal, wood, gas stoves, liquefied gas cylinder, generators - everything.
In general, there is no faith that upcoming winter will be without any accidents. Just the time is lost. They were warned that water to be drained and we need to correct mistakes. But they are just beginning to talk about the cutoffs. We should not sit in our offices, and must go to Tashkent to solve the problem with the gas, to depart for Astana and solve the problem of electricity and coal. This will give greater positive effect.
Nikolai Kravtsov, a member of the Public Supervisory Board under the Ministry of Energy:
-The Sustainable Development Strategy, adopted 1.5 years ago, states that increase in electricity consumption is defined on average of 3.5 percent throughout the country. The statement of the Prime Minister Dzhoomart Otorbayev says that 7-12 percent, which is very strange, of course. The document was signed by the President, and the application was made by the Prime Minister. And the figure soared up twice. And I was alarming.
- What about those, who can not afford generators? And residents of high-rise buildings, where it is impossible to heat by coal? And what about those who can not afford coal at current prices?
-Your question is appropriate, but I have no ready answers, like a magician. There are entire institutions, the government, which should have grounds, some arguments. That is, they have to argue their actions and decisions, which they accepted. Such is the nature of good governance. Unfortunately, this argument is not present. There is a statement of the Prime Minister, but there is no argument, and it bothers me too.
Akhmed Dzhundubaev, power engineering specialist:
-In my opinion, these are the results of our incompetent management - starting from about the 2000s, because the rational management system did not work. All, as they say, solve yesterday's problem, even though they should have been thinking for several years ahead. But they absolutely didn't think about it. It is connected also with related water flushes and inefficient operation of Toktogul reservoir. The fact that two years ago we boasted about 2 billion kilowatt-hours that we sent for export. We shouldn't do all these, it was necessary every year to plan the amount of fullness of the Toktogul reservoir and proceed from this. And then have reported that the export was sent, allegedly received profits. But in those days we exported electricity two times cheaper than in Kazakhstan. Due to this, we just did not receive about $80-100 million profit.
- But electricity - isn't a commodity that should be kept...?
- Well, they might produce less and save up Toktogul water potential so for passing the autumn-winter period painlessly.
- Cutoffs of three-phase overhead transmission lines and rotational cutoffs - is it a way out of the situation?
- If only in complex... In our country, as a rule, "senior" prefer not to pay for electricity. Moreover, all Tsarskoe Selo (village) is heated by electricity; you won't see smoke here in winter... All this, coupled with the corruption schemes in the energy sector, has led to what we have today. Of course, the lack of water is also present, that we all feel, but the main reason - the inefficient and unsustainable management of the sector.
Zhamalbek Tuleberdiev, the Chairman of the Association of Power Engineers of the Kyrgyz Republic:
-Despite the lack of large industrial enterprises in the country, there is now a huge number of small ones, which consume large amounts of electricity. Again the lack of water this year and those who have no gas for already 4 months, that is, the southern zone. The latter ones use electricity for food preparation. A previously used everything - electricity, coal and gas.
Aiylchy Sarybaev, the Doctor of Economic Sciences, professor, independent expert:
-At the absolute decline in industrial production in the country and a relatively stable population growth, there shouldn't be total energy consumption increase. But the ministry always shows the amount of population growth and shows no increase in power consumption. Thus, there is a speculation of these indicators and the use of corrupt practices at the expense of consumers - you, me etc...
- Rotational blackouts, increase in electricity tariffs were one of the causes of the tragic events of April 2010. Do not you think that the situation could lead to social upheaval?
- I would say that it is anti-presidential and anti-popular policy, which can lead to destabilization of the political situation in the country. I would call it economic sabotage against the state.