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Models of local energy ownership and the role of local energy communities in energy transition in Europe

REScoop.eu & Energie Cities

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Right now, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is drafting an opinion on Models of local energy ownership and the role of local energy communities in energy transition in Europe at the request of the upcoming Austrian presidency of the European Council. REScoop.eu, together with Energy Cities (the European Association of local authorities in energy transition) prepared a joint contribution.

The following points were highlighted in this contribution, together with a series of positive examples and best practices for the rapporteur Ms Mariana Gaju (PES) to consider:

  • Only by distributing control among local actors will we be able to get to a fair energy transition and effectively fight climate change. Furthermore, this would contribute to local development and the reduction of (energy) poverty.
  • We need a level playing field and non-discrimination in the internal energy market. This should be based on equal treatment: similar market participants should be treated the same, while market participants in substantially different positions or situations should receive different treatment.
  • There is an enormous interest among local authorities to take control of the energy infrastructure, but also a lot of uncertainty on the “hows and whats” and fear to fail. Sharing best practices and organising exchanges between cities can fill in the current knowledge and confidence gap. EU funds should be specifically devoted to this purpose so that such activities could be extensively implemented all over Europe.
  • Energy communities represent a distinct market actor in the energy system. They can play many roles at the local level such as provision of clean renewable energy and technical expertise. They can also as a partner to support local economic and social objectives.
  • Reinforcing the relationship between citizens and local authorities is a central component of local energy ownership initiatives, and fits into a wider perspective: reinventing local governance models around the notions of co-production and co-development - deciding with citizens rather than for citizens.
  • The market design and regulation needs to acknowledge the specificities of the market actors that invest in small generation units for renewables production. First, it is important to acknowledge that it is often citizens (either individually or collectively) investing - not sophisticated investors or businesses. Regulatory frameworks need to protect citizens and their investments. Regulations need to be minimal and simplified, when possible.

You can read the full text of our answers to the CoR consultation here.

Want to contribute as well? In case you have a position paper related to the topic, you are invited to send it to enve@cor.europa.eu by the end of August.

REScoop.eu and Energy Cities are part of the Community Energy Coalition, a group of organisations advocating for active citizens’ and local communities’ rights in the Energy Union.

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