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January 9, 2013

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Residents left out in cold over heating issue

SEVERAL communities in the city face a difficult problem as some central heating system providers said they are losing money each year even though residents complain about expensive bills.

One central heating service provider told Shanghai Daily it is losing more than 1.2 million yuan (US$192,700) per year.

The heating issue is also causing problems for expatriates, who told Shanghai Daily they cannot endure the cold weather without a heater in November as the service providers thought it was too early to turn on the building's central heating system.

In the latest case, residents in a community in Putuo District said the property management company had shut down the heating system as residents had rejected a price hike.

An official surnamed Cao with the company, Yada Property Management Co, told Shanghai Daily the heating system covered about 80 percent of the 1,100 households in Zhongding Community on Qingjian Road.

The service provider said it is a lose-lose situation as some residents refuse to use it, leaving the company to pay for wasted energy, Cao said.

The heating system was supposed to be turned on in the winter months in 880 households, but only 300 to 400 families use it, Cao said.

Many residents said they don't want to use the central heating system because it costs 800 yuan to 1,000 yuan each month, which is more than individual heaters and air-conditioners.

The company loses more than 100,000 yuan per month, Cao said.

Residents complained last week that the company doubled the heating fee from 0.4 yuan per kilowatt to 0.8 yuan per kilowatt, which they rejected. In response, the company shut down the heating system.

Cao said the heating service was turned back on once residents agreed to pay 0.5 yuan per kilowatt.

Even so, Cao said the company will still lose money.

"So far we are getting money from the community maintenance fund each month to keep the system running, but we don't know how long the service can last if the oil price rises," Cao said.

The provider of a similar heating service in suburban Jiading District said it is facing the same situation.

Li Man, a manager with Anting New Town Energy Technology Co, told Shanghai Morning Post the company is financially supported by the community's developer to keep the heating service running.

Li said the 3.5 yuan per kilowatt fee for the service was approved by the price bureau, but residents said they cannot afford such high fees.

The price was then cut to 1.5 yuan per kilowatt and later reduced to 0.5 yuan, but residents are still complaining about high heating fees, Li said.


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