Summer reading on “local energy ownership”: scoping study out now!

By Miriam Eisermann on 4 July 2017

The wind of people power

The wind of people power has blown hard this month: we’ve launched our scoping study on local energy ownership on 22nd June at the European Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels! A wide range of possible models exist for taking again control over local energy: our most recent study provides a map of concepts and guidelines for cities wishing to engage in strategic thinking on the topic.

Cities all over Europe take back their energy supply, citizens want to own and control the energy system…We wanted to have a closer look at this return to local public services and utilities and explore its potentials for energy democracy. We wanted make sense of the widespread movement for connecting city administrations with citizens’ initiatives. But how? And what exactly are the links between remunicipalisation moves, community energy and participative governance and how does all this relate to devolution?

An overview of concepts for activists and strategic guidelines for cities

To answer these and many other questions, we, at Energy Cities, have commissioned a pan-European scoping study. The author, researcher Andreas Rüdinger, presented the key findings during a workshop on the “different flavours of local energy communities and companies” organised in Brussels in the framework of the EU Sustainable Energy Week, in cooperation with the European associations of renewable energy cooperatives (RESCoop) and local utilities (CEDEC).

So, what can municipalities, engaged citizens and policy-makers take away from this study? Spanning three key European countries – Germany, The United Kingdom and France, the paper notably sheds light on the conditions and reasons that have triggered recent remunicipalisation in the energy sector all over Europe. In Germany for example, the renewal of over 20,000 concession contracts for managing electricity and gas distribution networks opened a window of opportunity, while the political momentum generated by the implementation of the Energiewende provided a favourable legal framework. In the UK, by contrast, deprivatisation was more driven by social concerns linked to tackling energy poverty.

Rational use, local benefits, social inclusion

Local authorities embark on remunicipalisation projects for various reasons: boosting the local economy, fighting fuel poverty, tightening the cooperation with other players, managing local public services in a more integrated way, accessing new markets, etc. During the workshop, British MEP Theresa Griffin illustrated the key role played by cities in moving to a “fully renewable, but also open, energy efficient and flexible energy system”, and gave the example of Liverpool’s local energy company. The local utility, she said, plans to help consumers save over 250 pounds a year on their energy bills, lifting many out of fuel poverty.

The European landscape

At a time when the European Commission has released two pieces of legislations – on renewable energy and electricity market design – putting special emphasis on local communities, the conclusions of the study should raise the interest of policymakers. On this, one key recommendation of the author is to “overcome the dichotomy between the ambition of the European Energy Union to place ‘citizens at the core’ of the energy transition project and political guidelines focusing on (supra-) national levels and the reinforcement of competition in an integrated market, often to the detriment of local players.”

Read the full study

To continue the debate launched by the study, Energy Cities is co-organising a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg mid-July to raise MEPs’ awareness of shared governance issues.
Map of members
Vilvoorde Belgium | Wien Austria | Krizevci Croatia | Sustainable City Network (GR) Greece | CEDEF-Central European Development Forum (RS) Serbia
Events to come
Capacity-building workshop - Providing energy retrofit packages to private homeowners – business models and project implementation
Wednesday 19 June

10 years of ELENA - Supporting investments in energy efficiency and sustainable transport
Thursday 20 June 15:30-18:30

Designing smart and efficient energy policies with citizens
Friday 21 June 13:30-16:30

Rénovation énergétique des bâtiments et ensembles d’immeubles - Voyage d’étude, région de Lille
From 25 to 26 June

GMF’s Brussels Forum
From 27 to 29 June

LIFE PlanUp webinar: Involving stakeholders and the public in national energy and climate planning - good practices from across Europe
Thursday 27 June 10:00-11:30

All coming events >>
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