Residents face higher winter fuel bills in drive to clean up capital’s air

By Deng Jingyin Source:Global Times Published: 2012-7-8 23:50:13

Residents living near a coal-fired power plant in Fengtai district are facing 30 percent higher winter heating bills, as the plant is slated to be replaced by gas-fired boilers.

The move is part of the capital's clean air plan to reduce pollution and improve air quality by replacing coal-fired plants in downtown areas, the Beijing News reported Sunday.

The new plant will provide heating for 12,000 households in the Yulin residential community, and will be finished in 2013. It will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 240 tons and smoke dust emission by 400 tons each year.

Residents near the plant previously paid 19 yuan ($2.9) per square meter for heating from coal-fired boilers, but the price for gas heating will rise to 30 yuan per square meter, the report said.

Zhang Yuanxun, a professor of resources and environment at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that although this plan aims to better protect the environment, if waste emissions are dealt with correctly, coal-fired plants need not be extremely polluting. 

"It depends on how the government manages the heating system. It might be better if we use gas which is much more environmentally friendly, but residents probably won't notice much difference, as technology has been improved in coal plants," Zhang said.

The government should explain the price rises, and take responsibility for the increase in heating costs, he noted.

A Beijing resident, surnamed Cheng, said he supports the change, which will eventually benefit the environment, but the extra charge is too much.

"Many low income people live here, so it's not good news for them I think; maybe they can't accept a high price like that," he said Sunday.

Posted in: Society, Metro Beijing

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