Villagers happy after shift to natural gas
Meng Fanlai, Party chief of Yuanxinzhuang village in Baoding, Hebei province, has witnessed a significant change in the past year since the country promoted a shift from coal as a heating source to natural gas and electricity.
“There used to be so many smoggy days in the past, but the air is much cleaner this year. Everyone sees this,” Meng says.
“The whole village has become cleaner, having no dust or smoke from coal-burning.”
The village, which isn’t far from Hebei province’s capital, Shijiazhuang, has relied for decades on burning coal for heat in its long, cold winters, just as any average village in the north does.
In March last year, in response to the country’s move to shift from coal to clean energy — that is, electricity and natural gas — as a heating source in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and neighboring cities, the village began its transformation to natural gas instead of coal. It was not easy, however. Many villagers were opposed, saying they were used to heating with coal and that it would be too troublesome to change. Some were concerned with the cost, and some were worried about safety and said it would be difficult to learn to use natural gas, Meng recalls.
Even Meng had doubts over the use of natural gas.
He cleared his worries and became supportive of the shift only after seeing, during training conferences that the municipal government organized, how convenient and clean it is to use natural gas.
Meng, 56, has been living in the village of 340