Democracy and participation, Environment and sustainability

CATALYST - Energy Poverty/Energy Democracy shortlist

Strengthening energy democracy & fighting energy poverty

Creators

Who is behind this?

Dimitris Kitsikopoulos

ELECTRA energy cooperative

http://electraenergy.coop

Greece

Idea

Idea pitch

Energy poverty is affecting almost 125m Europeans and has major social implications. For the region of Epirus in Greece, the challenge is even deeper as it is among the poorest regions in Europe.
Our initiative will support local citizens to collectively design a renewable Energy Community to alleviate energy poverty and serve as a systemic catalyst for mitigating additional local social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Where will your project idea take place?

Epirus region, Greece

What is the local challenge?

The region is facing serious energy poverty challenges, leading to major social implications.
Recent oil investigations in the rich ecosystem of Zagori resulted to VERY deep divisions among citizen groups of the local society.
The region has a rich multicultural past (Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities) and a vibrant present in which Greek, Jewish and Albanian communities, together with recently arrived refugees, are struggling to overcome social cohesion challenges.
The region has the highest unemployment rate in the country, leading to significant social implications.
By building an Energy Community to alleviate energy poverty, the project will serve as a systemic catalyst that will strengthen social cohesion and introduce a new paradigm of local sustainable development.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

The model of Energy Communities (recently introduced by law 4513/18’) is aiming to strengthen energy democracy and to empower citizens and local communities to design and to apply socially innovative solutions in order to enable local sustainable development. The model is based on the 7 cooperative principles.
Local citizens, by joining this democratically owned organization, will become familiar with democratic governance and participatory decision making. The energy community will serve as an inclusive organization and platform where citizens from different local groups and backgrounds will have the opportunity to collectively design and apply systemic and holistic solutions to mitigate their common economic, social, and environmental challenges.

Who are you doing it for?

Main target groups:
• Citizens facing energy poverty (approx. 47,600 citizens).
• Refugees in the region of Epirus (approx. 4.000 / Jan. 2020).
• Minorities, especially focusing on Albanians. Epirus region has been the connection point for the two countries for centuries. The Greek-Albanian collaboration is very crucial for the western Balkan peace and prosperity. Thus, introducing new opportunities for collaboration is very important.
• Oil extraction opposition parties. We will try to bring both parties around the same table and to present them the alternative of an Energy Community, where they could join forces.
There is a wider secondary group that will be directly and indirectly engaged:
• Municipality
• Regional authority
• Local NGOs and civil society organizations

How do you plan to get there?

Phase 1: Organize events and workshops to:
- Raise awareness
- Provide training and education
- Work with opposition parties
- Engage the local community
Phase 2: Co-design the Energy Community:
- Organize (for the potential members) workshops and training on the following topics: 1) Participatory decision making and governance. 2) Challenges identification and solutions. 3) Co-create the business plan. 4) Co-create the legal statute. 5) Training on Energy Communities business modeling. 6) Training on RES.
- Identify financing tools for implementing the community energy project(s).
- Register the Energy Community.
- Disseminate results
Phase 3: Register the En. Community
Parallel activities: Website development, toolkit development, project management, etc.

What are the expected results?

At the end of our project we will have:
- Informed and trained citizens in 1) Energy Communities, 2) Socially innovative tools about participatory decision making, collective governance, and ownership.
- Informed local authorities and stakeholders.
- A formally registered Energy Community (under L 4513/18). It will be able to materialize the citizens ideas, and develop suitable projects (e.g. a collectively owned PV plant) to tackle energy poverty and bring together different communities, opposition parties, and stakeholders.
- A collectively created business plan, a feasibility study and a concrete financing plan.
The “end” of the project will initiate the start up of the Energy Community and the beginning of a new paradigm of commonly owned and governed local resources.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Energy Communities were introduced by the European directive RED II (2018) to enable the active participation of citizens in the energy transition.
Our project will be designed and implemented in a way that it can be replicable in order to enforce energy democracy across Europe.
Our initiative will also be interconnected with other community energy initiatives around Europe, strengthening that way the European energy democracy movement.
It also needs to be highlighted that the region of Epirus is at the forefront of the very “sensitive” wider region of Western Balkans. The project will showcase a new paradigm for democratically and commonly owned and managed local resources. The paradigm will have a positive impact on prosperity, peace, and democracy in the wider region.

What is your story?

Our organization is leading the development of Energy Communities in Greece and passionately promoting energy democracy. We love working with local societies in developing community energy projects.
Also, we always wanted to support the development of an Energy Community in this region since we believe that its key social, environmental and economic challenges could be mitigated that way. Especially the challenges associated with the deep divisions caused by the proposed oil extractions, energy poverty and social cohesion.
We have already been discussing about it with local stakeholders and we have been presenting it in local events.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the resources to take it further. So, we strongly believe that the ground is fertile and the timing is ideal.

€ 46000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 46000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

STAFF SALARIES:
• Project management
• Communication
• Project Coordination
• Community engagement
• Conflict resolution
• Networking / capitalization
• Events & workshops
• Website development, social media
Subtotal: 36.000 euro

TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION
Subtotal: 1.000 euro

EXTERNAL SERVICES
• Legal registration
• Accountant
• Publications
• Catering
• Event and workshops Hosting
• Website hosting
• Other expenses
Subtotal: 9.000 euro

TOTAL SUM: 46.000

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Is your region facing similar challenges, associated with energy poverty and social cohesion? Do you think the project could be replicated in your region? Would you be interested to participate in it? Do you think our project is feasible? What would be some possible risks we need to be aware of?

Team

DimitrisK

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on Aug. 3, 2020

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