Five years ago, Sambir faced an energy challenge. On the one hand, rising electricity tariffs took more and more funds out of the city’s budget.
A substantial portion of these funds was spent on street illumination. On the other hand, there wasn’t much room for cutting down on electricity consumption, because a lot of streets in the city did not have illumination in the first place. However, they in Sambir did find the way out.
A search of the ways to reduce electricity consumption in Sambir has been on for decades. In 2013, it brought Sambir City Council to joining the Covenant of Mayors, a European cooperation movement for climate and energy. It brings together cities desirous of reducing energy consumption and environmental impact.
The participation in this initiative obliged Sambir City Council to develop an Action Plan for Sustainable Energy Development. According to this plan, the city had to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 20% by 2020 versus 2009.
“We not only want to be a progressive city. We are always trying to relieve the city’s budget in all possible ways: by looking for co-financing, implementing various projects,” Ihor Nestorak, Deputy Mayor of Sambir explains.
The goal stated in Sambir’s Action Plan for Sustainable Energy Development is not just about the care of environment. It is also an attempt to reduce the costs of maintaining budget-financed institutions, outdoor illumination, residential and industrial sectors, and public transport. In the beginning, however, the city did not have enough resources for a truly comprehensive energy modernization of its infrastructure.
“Back then [in the first years after joining the Covenant of Mayors – author], we were spending almost 10 million hryvnias on maintaining the city infrastructure. Both then and now, most of the city’s budget expenditures went to education and healthcare. Therefore, we did not have funds for multimillion projects,” Svitlana Dutko, Head of Economy Department at Sambir City Council, says.
The opportunity for a fundamental change of the city’s energy consumption presented itself in 2014. That year, a contest of demonstration projects was announced as part of the Covenant of Mayors. There were ready ideas in Sambir, which could be implemented with its help. Svitlana Dutko says that back then, the city council has already had certain infrastructural projects, including a street illumination modernization plan. However, that plan needed finalization.
Sambir authorities decided to take advantage of the assistance provided by Eastern Europe Foundation to ensure quality preparation of application and participation in the competitive selection. Eventually, the city submitted an application for that contest jointly with the aforementioned Foundation and Zhovkva, a city whose authorities had a plan for modernization of the city’s heating system.
Such a thorough preparation bore its fruits: Sambir received almost 7 million hryvnias from the European Union to modernize its street illumination system. However, according to the contest’s terms, the city had to pay itself a portion of the project’s costs (almost 1.1 million hryvnias). Svitlana Dutko says that Sambir was able to save money in this area as well: the city simultaneously submitted an application for project financing to Lviv Oblast State Administration. Therefore, half of these costs were paid from the regional budget.
Quality lighting is energy efficient lighting
“The bulk of our expenditures is spent on social security and on financing educational and medical institutions. Surely, we could develop some energy modernization project in these areas. But for us, safety of residents was also important,” Ihor Nestorak says.
According to the deputy mayor, the city council received a lot of complaints in the past from people living in many streets located far from the center of Sambir. They complained about the absence of street illumination. And even if some streets did have illumination, it was on only until 1 am. For the rest of the night and up until 6 am, people living there had to walk in the complete darkness.
For many years, the city authorities were unable to comprehensively solve this problem. Therefore, they selected the project of modernizing the street illumination system for submission to the contest of demonstration projects under the Covenant of Mayors.
“Our residents were positive about this initiative. We had to replace several dozens of kilometers of networks which was built back in the Soviet time. Because of its age, lights would often go off in many streets,” Svitlana Dutko explains the choice.
The Head of Economy Department maintains that this project was also important for the city’s budget, because in 2014-2015, electricity tariffs began to surge, including those for cities, and old power grids were very energy-consuming.
According to the project, 837 new lamps and 56 new lampposts (including 22 decorative posts in the city’s historical part) had to be installed in Sambir. While the power of old Soviet-made lamps could reach 150-300 W, the absolute majority of modern lamps consume 30 W and some of them 100 W. Moreover, modern lamps have better illumination quality.
“In every street where we planned our work, we surveyed people by asking them where to install new sources of light. We wanted to make sure that it would suit them, that there will be light where people walk,” Oksana Fur, Head of Entrepreneurship and Investment Department at Sambir City Council, says. She was responsible for the project’s management on part of the city.
For the duration of this project, almost 26 kilometers of power cables were replaced in Sambir. According to information by Sambir’s Obiednane municipal utility company, the total length of the city’s street illumination network is 64.9 kilometers. In other words, the project helped replace more than 40% of its length.
Modernization continued during 2015-2017. New lamps were installed in the total of 24 streets across Sambir. Some of them became illuminated at night for the first time. The city received energy-efficient street illumination, so now, lights no longer need to be turned off during certain hours at night – the lamps stay on during the entire dark period of the day. According to Ihor Nestorak, almost 90% of streets in Sambir are presently illuminated. Even ten years ago, people in this city could only dream about it.
“The new illumination helped reduce the number of complaints from residents and the number of criminal offenses. And even though we now illuminate more streets, we consume less energy than if we had to illuminate all of them using old lamps,” Ihor Nestorak explains the effect from this project. According to him, it is hard to calculate the actual cost savings, because for the duration of the project’s implementation period, electricity tariffs went up several times.
According to data by Sambir’s Obiednane utility company, the city’s street illumination consumed 565,850 kW of electricity in 2015 and only 389,991 kW in 2018.
The replacement of street illumination is not the only component of Sambir’s demonstration project. They have also installed four pylons with solar panels to illuminate four pedestrian underpasses in the city center. Power distribution boards have also been replaced in the entire city, and today, the street illumination system is safe from faults and short circuits. Also, utility services are now able to monitor power consumption in real time and promptly identify faults.
And finally, this project included another component of huge importance for the city. Sambir is a city with the history dating back to the early medieval period. It has several architectural landmarks of the Modern Era, and a number of historical buildings of the 19th and 20th centuries. Therefore, people in Sambir are very keen to preserve the memory of their past. After all, it attracts tourists.
A demonstration project under the Covenant of Mayors allowed to install modern lamps around seven architectural landmarks in the center of Sambir. Oksana Fur says that in the past, historical landmarks in the city have never been illuminated at night.
More than just light
The energy and economic effect from the demonstration project in Sambir is the most visible and simple to understand. However, Svitlana Dutko says, the social and environmental components are also important for the city.
The project also included communication with the locals, especially children. Energy conservation lessons were held at all schools of the city. Certain schools still have them, even though the project has ended. School No 8 has an exhibition class presenting modern energy efficient technologies: wind and solar power generators, special lamps.
“We have an eco-friendly location here: next to us are Staryi Sambir Wind Power Plant and Sambir Solar Power Plant. We are trying to stay up to the task. We took children on a tour of these power plants,” Svitlana Dutko says.
According to the Head of Economy Department, the city council receives more and more energy modernization proposals. Sambir residents see the progress in modernizing the city’s infrastructure, and therefore, become more supportive of these initiatives. It allows Sambir’s authorities to work on the greater number of energy efficiency projects.
Oksana Fur also attributes the change in approach of the city’s authorities and utility departments to any repairs in the city to the effect from the demonstration project in Sambir. If work involves the energy aspect, it will be done only in accordance with modern standards, for instance, using energy-saving sources of light only.
Sambir City Council participates in various grant-financed energy modernization projects concerning buildings maintained by the city. Windows are currently being replaced in the city’s schools and kindergartens to reduce consumption of energy there. Thanks to funding from the regional budget, the city was able to replace illumination system in another two streets.
“We want to continue to change ourselves in accordance with energy efficiency principles. Our present Action Plan for Sustainable Energy Development was devised until 2020, and our membership in the Covenant of Mayors expires the same year. However, Sambir City Council is already gathering data for the new strategy. We hope to extend our membership in the Covenant until 2030,” Oksana Fur says, adding that Sambir has many more energy modernization plans.
According to the most recent report on implementation of Sambir’s Action Plan for Sustainable Energy Development published in the fall of 2018, the city was able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 13.5% comparing to 2009 by engaging only 18% of the planned amount of investments at that time. They did learn how to save money and take care about the environment.
By Mykhailo Drapak