Models of local energy ownership and the role of local energy communities

Delivering the energy transition at local level

Following the invitation of the Committee of the Region, we were eager to share our knowledge on community energy and local energy ownership. We wanted to make sure the Committee of the Region knew about success stories but also what is needed at local level, to make the transition to renewable energy a reality!

That is why we provided a series of examples and best practices of local energy ownership. But we have also highlighted some important points for the consideration of the rapporteur Ms Mariana Gaju:

1- Only by distributing control among local actors will we be able to get to a fair energy transition and effectively fight climate change. This would also contribute to local development and the reduction of (energy) poverty.

2- 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.

3- 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 take place all over Europe.

4- 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 be a partner to support local economic and social objectives.

5- Reinforcing the relationship between citizens and local authorities is a central component of local energy ownership initiatives. It 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.

6- The market design and regulation needs to acknowledge the specificities of the smaller market actors producing renewable energy. It is important to acknowledge that the smaller actors are often citizens (either individually or collectively) – not sophisticated investors or businesses. Regulatory frameworks need to protect citizens and their investments. Regulations need to be minimal and simplified, when possible.