Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) is an extremely important document developed and implemented by the cities of many countries as part of a leading initiative of the European Union – the Covenant of Mayors. It was created in response to the environmental and energy challenges (greenhouse effect and related negative climate changes and inevitable exhausting of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) on the horizon.

Sustainable municipal energy development envisages satisfying the energy needs of the local community without any harm to future generations. By joining the Covenant of Mayors, the Ukrainian cities voluntarily undertake an obligation to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of alternative and renewable energy sources in their territories. This approach helps reduce the consumption of conventional fuels and reduce carbon dioxide (СО2) emissions into the environment by at least 20% before 2020.

In order to help the partner cities in achieving their ambitious goals, the USAID Project helped them develop methodologies for monitoring and verifying energy saving, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and their cost-effectiveness for activities implemented under SEAPs.

Project assistance also included the identification of investment projects by conducting energy audits, the preparation of technical feasibility studies (indicating cost, energy, and financial savings, and greenhouse gas reductions), and the preparation of business plans indicating cost-effectiveness, financial benefits, and cash flows. 

Experts of the USAID Project started their work by evaluating key sectors of municipal infrastructure, such as heat supply, residential and public buildings, water supply and sanitation systems, transport, street lighting, as well as municipal solid waste management programs. The evaluation results, expert calculations, and public discussions have all helped the cities identify their priorities, which needed urgent reforms in energy saving and energy independence.

Working with the cities, experts of the USAID Project prepared 25 Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) and Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs). In approving them, local council members provided vital opportunities for their communities to attract significant investments in energy efficiency projects and initiatives. The prepared action plans contain more than 600 projects for implementation of energy efficiency measures and use of alternative energy sources in key infrastructure sectors.

The Project assisted the municipalities in the preparation of applications for the financing of their investment projects. Financing might come from one or more sources: the municipal budget, loans from commercial banks, municipal bonds on the domestic capital market, or concessionary lending support from IFIs (e.g., NEFCO, World Bank, IFC, EIB, and EBRD). Where it is appropriate and technically possible, commercial lending should be supported by a USAID DCA credit guarantee. The USAID Project assisted in developing or supporting the activities of the Project Implementation Units in promoting the attraction and performance of IFI loans.

The USAID Project team assisted the cities inn attracting the funds required for implementation of SEAPs. Upon request from partner-cities, the Project team elaborated in detail 60 investment projects totaling about USD 490 million. USAID Project experts conducted in-depth audits of key sectors of the municipal infrastructure, prepared investment feasibility studies, and developed business plans and other essential documents. Today, 22 projects totaling about USD 200 million are already being implemented or are proceeding through the approval process.

Separate investment catalogs have been developed for twenty SEAPs. According to experts of the USAID Project, the total investment demand for implementation of the initiatives included in SEAPs is estimated at about USD 2 billion. In just 2 years, the cities have managed to finance energy efficiency activities for a total of nearly USD 150 million. If all the proposed projects are successfully implemented in full, the cities will be able to reduce their annual energy consumption by 7,667 GWh and cut the annual CO2 emissions in the atmosphere by 7 million tons.

Understanding that municipalities will be able to implement their plans and projects only by using modern approaches to managing energy resources, the USAID Project team offered them to improve existing or develop new systems of energy management according to the provisions of the ISO 50001* standard.