Friday 23 June 2017

Cities meet Members of European Parliament to discuss contribution to key energy legislations

Yesterday, in the margins of the EU Sustainable Energy Week, 5 elected city representatives held an exchange of views with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the role local authorities should play in the various energy legislative proposals that have been tabled by the European Commission as part of the Clean Energy Package.

Hosted by MEP Claude Turmes, who recently released his draft report on the proposal for a regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union, the event’s agenda was mainly centred around three topics: the support to community energy projects in the energy system and market, cities’ funding needs and financing constraints and – of course – the role they should play in the proposed governance of the Energy Union.

Deputy Mayor of the Belgian city of Mouscron Ann Cloet represented Energy Cities while the four other local representatives from Geldermalsen, Amsterdam, the Province of Drenthe (NL) and Växjö (SE), each spoke on behalf of a European city network, respectively Climate Alliance, EUROCITIES, the Council of Municipalities and Regions and ICLEI.

A city of over 55,000 inhabitants, Mouscron signed the EU Covenant of Mayors back in February 2012, and delivered its Sustainable Energy Action Plan less than a year later, explained Ann Cloet. The main measures of the plan specifically focus on mobility, buildings and mobilizing citizens. On the last two items, one big priority of the city has been to encourage citizens to invest in photovoltaic panels. “The city cannot do it alone, and neither can citizens,” said Ann. To provide a favourable framework for PV investments, Mouscron joined forces with its citizens to design a cooperative fund called Coopem. This innovative funding instrument, in which the city has a 15% share, provides advance payment to investing households so that they can directly benefit from energy subsidies, instead of waiting five years to be granted the full support, as foreseen in the regional legislation. Through this particular project, the city helps households in getting quicker payback on their investments and also made preferential contracts with regional companies, supporting the local economy.

On the occasion of this event, the five city networks, representing virtually all local authorities across Europe, adopted a declaration with specific recommendations on how to boost cities’ role within the Energy Union.

As a follow-up, MEP Claude Turmes - who was very happy about the exchange and said cities "played a crucial role to capture the multiple benefits of the energy transition" invited local authorities to continue regular exchanges of this topic, with the next meeting scheduled to happen in September 2017.

by Alix Bolle on 23 June 2017 / 1704 visits

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