Situated in the heart of Serbia and surrounded by the mountains Jelica, Ovčar, Kablar, and Vujan, Čačak is a city proud of its rich history. As one of the largest cities in our country, it develops and progresses on a daily basis. Only a few kilometers from Čačak, visitors from all over Serbia and the region can find attractions like spas, monasteries, cultural and historical monuments, meanders of the West Morava, rich flora, and fauna.
The people of Čačak are extremely proud of their land, mild-tempered and hardworking. They are willing to make their home place even a better place to live. As such, they know that roots of everything begin at home, so it does not come as a surprise that they are not only very keen to learn how to make the energy improvements of their homes but also what kind of air they breathe and how much they can do to protect the environment. We were hosted by the mayor of Čačak, Mr Milun Todorović, and talked about the ongoing projects, plans for the future, and how much is being invested in environmental protection.
EP: The city of Čačak was allocated 10 million RSD subsidies for the procurement of solar panels. What is the next step, and when will the public call be announced?
Milun Todorović: After selecting the companies that will install solar panels, we will announce a public call for endusers, i.e., citizens. After the deadline for citizens to apply, the relevant panel will pay a visit to households registered, make records, evaluate, and rank applicants according to the conditions stipulated in the public call and the Rulebook, and finally award contracts to end-users who will receive subsidies. Citizens are very interested in installing solar panels. It is clear that this is a significant saving of money for every household that would decide on this move, so that a large number of them, according to my associates, either come to the City Administration every day or inquire about the public call by phone. We are not giving up on these goals in the future, so the City of Čačak will allocate funds to subsidize projects to improve energy efficiency. Subsidies will be intended for the installation of solar panels, replacement of the thermal insulation of the building, replacement of facade, as well as for the replacement of heating boilers in households.
EP: How much money will be invested in energy efficiency projects in Čačak?
Milun Todorović: This year, almost one million euros will be invested in Čačak through projects aimed to improve energy efficiency, specifically in replacing household carpentry and installing solar panels. The funds allocated to Čačak for this purpose by the relevant ministry are among the highest of all local governments in Serbia. The city treasury will allocate another RSD 50 million from two budgetary lines, and we will get the same amount from the Government. With an additional ten million dinars for installing solar panels, the amount spent on improving energy efficiency in Čačak will reach one million EUR. The interest of our fellow citizens is high on our list of priorities, and the interest in this matter is extremely high. All citizens will be able to take part in the call, with the criteria determined by the Ministry of Mining and Energy.
EP: Air pollution is part of our everyday life. What is the situation in Čačak in that respect? What is the city’s air quality, and how do you measure it?
Milun Todorović: The City of Čačak has intensified its efforts to develop a mobile application that will serve citizens to monitor the air pollution level within the city limits, using data from 11 sensor locations. In this way, the citizens of Čačak will monitor the air quality at all times. The Čačak Public Health Institute provides great support to the local authorities in this matter. It will, in accordance with the measured values, give adequate recommendations via media about the parts of the day when citizens should stay indoors due to high air pollution. Subsidies for replacing carpentry, thermal insulation, gasification of households will significantly contribute to lowering pollution. I must emphasize that the City of Čačak measures air pollution levels on high-frequency roads. We still don’t have the average value, but we measure directly in the most frequent places regarding public traffic. It is very important to mention that during October 2021 we officially commissioned the gas boiler room at a local school “Vuk Karadžić” to shut down the last boiler room in this part of the city that used oil, fuel oil, and coal as fuel. The next thing to look into is the possibility of shutting down old-generation natural gas boilers where possible. By switching to the supply from the new energy-efficient plant and connecting to the primary hot water network instead of the old system, significant savings will be achieved, and the strictest environmental standards will be met. Only then can we expect significantly better air quality. We have replaced all heat sources owned by the City of Čačak, and managed by PUC “Čačak”, moving on from the less environmentally friendly fuels to natural gas.
Interviewed by: Milica Radičević
Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine ELECTROMOBILITY.