Addressing the key strengths and limitations of existing local energy models.
Providing a political impetus for the Member States to promote the role of local energy communities.
On 12-14 June 2019, the CoR co-organised the SET-Plan Conference that took place in Bucharest, focusing on how to make the energy transition happen locally. In a session on renewable energy at the scale of citizens and consumers, Mr Tzitzikostas (CoR member) shared his experience regarding energy communities and the role of LRAs within the Greek legal framework, one of the front-runners in the EU regarding energy communities.
The opinion recommended to ensure ready access to technical information and guidance about setting up, financing and operating community projects for local energy communities and insisted on the role LRAs can play to create awareness among their citizens about the opportunities of becoming involved in the local energy sector, notably by distributing relevant information.
Along the same lines, the Communication from the European Commission issued in June and assessing the 28 draft NECPs (COM(2019) 285 final) stressed that "Information on measures to promote self-consumption and renewable energy communities (…) are key to boost citizens’ buy-in of the energy transition, attract private investment and facilitate cost-effective achievement of targets" and insisted on the importance to simplify administrative procedures, e.g. by facilitating the introduction of contact points or by having swift procedures in place for repowering.
Moreover, in the Green Deal Communication, the European Commission announced that the Climate Pact will continue to work to empower regional and local communities, including energy communities.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- recommends streamlining the various national support schemes as far as necessary at European level in order to ensure that they can contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development goals, the Paris Agreement targets and the objectives of the European energy Union;
- calls for non-discriminatory rules on market access for local energy communities, for local energy communities to be promoted by means of policies and legislation recognising their role and specific needs, for policies and rules promoting local and regional cooperation, for the adoption of simplified and proportionate regulatory and administrative procedures, and for ready access to technical and economic information, guidance and finance;
- recognises that European legislation must establish a level playing field and minimum requirements for the promotion of local energy communities, so that the EU can lead by example;
- recalls, that it is important to ensure that clear definitions and rules provide certainty to ensure that LECs can play a positive role in a just energy transition and calls on the Member States to exploit their full potential. This includes the need for them to have access to financial instruments and/or partnership schemes in order to mitigate the risks accompanying investments in LECs, as well as correcting any negative bias against them;
- recommends that dedicated finance support schemes be set up for local energy communities, particularly during the planning and set-up phases, with ready access to technical information and guidance about setting up, financing and operating community projects;
- considers that LRAs have a key role to play in creating awareness among their citizens about the opportunities of becoming involved in the local energy sector and distributing relevant information.