The Region of Brussels is currently working on finalizing its ordinance to transpose energy community provisions of the CEP. The ordinance includes a total of 4 definitions. While this might create some confusion, there is an attempt to create a coherent concept of energy communities. This is evidenced by horizontal provisions for all energy communities, which includes the requirement of autonomy, and the requirement to show how openness and voluntary participation based on objective, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria are ensured. Autonomy is also clearly referenced to the existing company law. While no specific legal forms are mentioned in the ordinance, the energy regulator, Brugel, is given substantial authority to register, monitor, and ensure energy communities remain compliant with criteria, while a register is also established providing for transparency. This oversight should help contribute towards building trust and avoiding abuse.
Criteria of EU definition reflected in national definition
- Open and voluntary participation are covered
- Autonomy is covered for all energy communities
- Effective control is covered
Level of detail in the elaboration of principles contained in EU criteria
For all energy communities
- Criteria for participation must be objective, transparent and non-discriminatory to ensure open and voluntary participation
- Articles of association must detail: 1) effective control and exercise of rights; 2) how autonomy will be guaranteed vis-à-vis its individual members and other market players who cooperate with it in other ways
Citizens Energy Community
- Effective Control – limited to natural persons, local authorities and small enterprises that do not carry out large-scale economic activity or work in the energy sector
- Eligibility – open to any natural or legal person (subject to above)
Renewable Energy Community
- Effective control – limited to members connected to the distribution system or regional transmission system (basically – the region)
- Eligibility – any natural person, local authority or SME as long as participation in energy communities is not their principle professional or commercial activity
- For autonomy, there is an explicit reference to 1:14 of the existing company law
Local Energy Community
- Eligibility – any natural person, public authority or SME as long as participation in energy communities is not their principle professional or commercial activity. This includes third party investors, which are allowed to participate in ownership. This could compromise autonomy in energy communities, and should be monitored.
- Effective control -limited to members connected to the distribution system or regional transmission system (basically – the region)
- Activities/ownership limitations – only produces, consumes, stores and shares RES electricity. The local energy community, or one or more of its members, must own or have right of use over the generation facilities used by the community
- Government can stipulate further conditions/details
Clearly defined purpose
Communities must describe their objectives in their statutes – must pursue environmental, social or economic objectives over pursuit of financial gain.
ICA cooperative governance principles reflected
Yes, to the extent they integrate the EU definition.
Legal entities allowed
All, subject to conditions.
Citizen participation is ensured
Designated authority to oversee
Brugel, the energy regulator, grants authorization to be an energy community, valid for 10 years. Brugel must publish list of authorized energy communities on its website along with general description of activities. Brugel monitors compliance with obligations and criteria – non-compliance results in withdrawal of license by Brugel. The government may supplement this procedure.
Number of definitions
4 (energy community, citizens energy community, renewable energy community, local energy community).
Coherency between both definitions
Yes – all definitions come under the common concept of energy communities. Autonomy applies to all energy communities, even though eligibility and effective control standards may differ. It is also clear that local energy communities are a subset of renewable energy community, meant to pursue local renewables generation and consumption/sharing.