x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Residents protest at cooling charges

More than 100 people gathered outside their apartment blocks yesterday to decide how to fight back against what they claim are excessive cooling charges.

A Skycourts resident reads complaints to be submitted to the owners’ association.
A Skycourts resident reads complaints to be submitted to the owners’ association.

DUBAI // More than 100 people gathered outside their apartment blocks yesterday to decide how to fight back against what they claim are excessive cooling charges.

The residents of the Skycourts development in Dubailand met in the courtyard to protest against the fees, which they say can reach an average of Dh800 per month.

The charges come from Alpha Utilities Management, a company specialising in district cooling.

One resident, who declined to be named, said the building was cooled through a 300-tonne capacity chiller rather than a district cooling system.

"The units are placed just outside the building," he said. "I'm from the construction industry and I can make out the difference. Even if it was district cooling, the charges are still abnormally high.

"We simply cannot afford to pay this much on top of Dewa charges.

"Our objective today is to call an owners' association meeting to understand why there's such a heavy charge. Next we want to approach the authorities."

The development is owned by National Bonds. Neither they nor Alpha Utilities Management could be reached for comment yesterday.

This week, air conditioning was shut off to an entire building in Jumeirah Lakes Towers because the owners' association had not paid a bill of Dh811,000.

District cooling is a plant-based method for producing and supplying cooled water for use in air conditioning systems, to a 'district' of several buildings. Prices can vary but residents of an average two-bedroom flat in Dubai can expect to pay between Dh300 and Dh900 per month for district cooling charges, depending on the area.

The gathering yesterday was organised by residents, who put up notices of the meeting by the lifts in each of the six towers in the 2,800-unit development.

One of them was Mohammed Al Khatib, who moved into the development five months ago.

"At first there were no bills," he said. "Suddenly we found them under our doors, saying that we needed to pay Dh4,000 or Dh6,000.

"It was just a lump sum amount without any breakdown.

"I would just like to know where they got that amount from."

mcroucher@thenational.ae