By Nane Atshemian
Forty facilities have been leased to organizations that had submitted bids for realizing local heating projects as part of an ambitious plan to replace Armenia’s collapsing system of central heating with more economical local boiler stations, Yerevan’s deputy mayor Vano Vardanian told the media at a press briefing on Monday.
The three-stage program aims to replace the existing Soviet-era boilers across the country with new, much smaller and more economical ones within the next six or seven years.
The existing system long ago ceased to supply centralized heating to households in Armenia.
Most of the thousands of boiler stations across the republic need substantial investments to be re-operated.
Meanwhile, Vardanian is convinced that “centralized heating is already history” as the future, he said, belongs to local heating.
The overwhelming majority of Armenians heat their homes using the more expensive electricity, wood and coal.
Many use gas heaters, mainly of Iranian and Turkish make, which caused a series of deadly poisoning last year.
Meanwhile, residents complain that even if they have central gas they cannot save much electricity, as they still have to use electricity to heat their homes if they have more than one room.
Cheap gas heaters do not properly heat either, while good ones cost more than $1,000 and are not affordable to the majority of the population.
The municipality had not fulfilled its promise at the beginning of last heating season to supply heat in a centralized manner to at least two districts of Yerevan – Erebuni and Shengavit.
The city authorities say the reason for not providing centralized heating was the low level of fee collection from the population.
“If the planned investment project is realized, we will have 60 buildings in Yerevan heated locally. Last year we heated 20 buildings using seven boiler stations, today these stations should expand their network to involve a greater number of buildings,” Vardanian said.
The deputy mayor said the municipality had realized successfully its projects in capital construction, city improvement works, asphalting, as well as repairs of accident-prone buildings.
He suggested that, for example, the plan for cleaning works in Buzand and Arami streets was fulfilled by 163 percent, and the plan for repairs of nine accident-prone buildings was fulfilled by 111 percent.
Some works were carried out by prefectures, including repairs of roofs, water-supply networks, entrances and doors.
Vardanian also said that 2,000 tons of technical salt and more than 8,000 tons of sand will be provided to communities before snowfalls begin.