Communal gas meters: “pros”, “cons”, and “what to do”

This summer each condominium and housing cooperative has faced the problem of communal gas meters being imposed to them.

Naturally, people start putting into question the validity of the decision of the National Commission on establishment of communal meters. After all, the law of Ukraine “On providing commercial metering of natural gas” says that from January 1, 2018 in the apartments in which the gas is used only for cooking commercial meters are to be installed (article 2). That is, it is logical that the funds for the installation of the meters should be envisaged in the prices and tariffs for gas.

Consumers in each city are beginning to figure out on their own which part of the overall gas price includes the costs for the installation of residential meters. Why do gas distribution network operators offer to switch to communal meters instead of the apartment ones?

Consumers get no response from the regulator. However, they get gas bills in accordance with maximum volume of gas consumption by population. (At the rate of 9.8 m3 per a registered person instead of 3 (or 4.5) m3 (in accordance with paragraph 3 of chapter 4 of Section IX of the Code)).

At the same time, paragraph 3 of article 18 of the Law of Ukraine from 9 April 2015 № 329-VIII «On natural gas market” defines that the natural gas is supplied to consumers providing that there are meters. In the case of absence of meter, domestic consumers consume natural gas according to the norms established by the legislation.

Article 6 of the law on fiscal metering imposes duty and responsibility for the installation of meters on the economic entities that are in charge of distribution of natural gas in a respective territory, which are obliged to:

1) ensure installation of gas meters:

  1. a) for the population living in apartments and private homes in which gas is used:

– In complex, for heating as well, – till January 1, 2012;

– For water heating and cooking – till 1 January 2016;

– For cooking only – by 1 January 2018.

In the case of non-compliance with the terms of installation, it is prohibited to suspend gas supply to such consumers. In this case, gas accounting is carried out according to the norms of consumption approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. This means that the installation costs are to be included in the tariff for the gas supply service.

What to do?

Refusals of condominiums and housing cooperatives to install communal meters have been blatantly ignored so far. People are facing a dilemma: to pay three times more as compared to the established standards of gas consumption, or to obey and install communal meters.

There are several solutions that can be acceptable for people, but we need political will of the government to choose at least some of them as alternative variants:

– The regulator should be required to provide explanations as for the structure of the tariff for gas distribution service for each economic entity;

– Each economic entity has to demonstrate the need for financing the installation of residential accounting mentioning the number of meters needed and the cost (because the cost of apartment meters today is different in different cities – from 900 hryvnias per unit up to 4, 300 hryvnias).

if with the current structure of the tariff for natural gas distribution service by January 1, 2018 economic entities cannot provide 100% of their consumers with residential accounting, consumers should be offered

  1. a) either installment of a residential meter in test mode for 2 months to be able to identify the amount of consumption per person per month with the possibility to compare the consumption with the current standards and the subsequent adoption of a decision on the feasibility of introduction of residential accounting
  2. b) or the right of consumers to pay for the acquisition of meters, but to have installation of these meters and their putting into operation funded by gas distribution mechanism operators.

There may be other solutions, but there must be a dialogue, which we lacked at all of the stages. We call on the Government to respond to this problem and find an appropriate solution!

Alona Babak
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