Ukrainians urged to slash energy consumption
Ukrainian authorities have asked citizens to conserve energy, warning that a surge in consumption during a spell of bad weather is putting too much strain on the national power grid. The country’s power infrastructure has been shattered by Russian airstrikes in retaliation for a “terrorist attack” on the strategic Crimean Bridge in 2022.
The appeal was made on Monday by Ukrenergo, the country’s national energy operator. It reported an increase in consumption, noting that the energy used at lunchtime on January 8 had exceeded the previous working day’s figures by more than 13%.
According to the operator, the surge was caused not only by the start of the working week but also by low temperatures and a spell of bad weather in the southern regions, which disrupted power supply.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is expected to experience a period of extremely cold weather, with temperatures dropping to as low as -27C (-16F) in some regions. As of Monday, there were more than 157,000 consumers affected by blackouts, according to the Energy Ministry.
“Friends, consumption is growing too much now,” Ukrenergo said. “Please consume electricity conservatively.”
To persuade Ukrainians to comply with the recommendation, it published two pictures of a sad-looking cat – one small one, representing the figures for January 5, and a much chubbier one, representing January 8 – with consumption graphs outlining the pet’s contours.
“It is necessary to help the cat Grafik to maintain his health – to limit his diet,” the operator said, adding that Ukrainians can do this by turning off excess lights, avoiding using powerful home appliances simultaneously, and unplugging their devices once they’re charged.
Ukraine’s power grid is also still suffering from the effects of Russian strikes that started in the fall of 2022. In November 2022, Kiev estimated that the barrages had knocked out about half of the country’s energy infrastructure. In early January 2023, Vladimir Kudritsky, Ukrenergo’s chairman, called the scale of the damage “unprecedented” and predicted that it would take months if not years to repair it.
Ukrainian authorities reported new strikes on the power grid earlier this month, which Russia’s Defense Ministry believes to be crucial for Ukraine’s military capability. The blackouts affected hundreds of thousands of people after Russia vowed to retaliate for Kiev’s attacks on Belgorod and Donetsk, which killed dozens of civilians, including children. Moscow has repeatedly said it carries out strikes only on military facilities and supporting infrastructure.