Energy gains versus energy poverty
It began with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ moral appeal to the big oil companies to stop exorbitant excess profits on the backs of “ordinary” households.
That call fed directly into our own abdominal pain. Because depending on the type of power contract, many a wind and solar farm also brings in an unprecedented price per kilowatt hour generated. Needless to say, we are not the only ones with that knot in our stomachs. We got together with a group of like-minded people to come up with some simple, and also not-so-simple, solutions that would allow you as a wind and zone operator to bring the energy (surplus) profits to households.
Ideally, we would have liked to get to work on linking our own generated energy directly to families who can now also use the food bank, for example, or in other words set up a real “energy bank.” However, that idea became quite complicated after the intervention of the European Commission. That said, even under existing power contracts, energy gains can be delivered back to society.
We distinguish three types of ways to contribute … or actually to remit. Here, we like to point out wonderful initiatives that have already paved the way. That way you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and you can also contribute with your wind or solar farm:
If you want to address (energy) poverty in a very targeted way, you can choose to assist financially on energy bills, or simply make an amount available per household. And you can then do that for your members (if you are an energy cooperative) or also for other families who need it. You reach those families in consultation with the municipality, for example, through the food bank or a foundation like Humanitas.
Need inspiration? See, for example:
- Betuwewind Who reduced the energy bill of its members with a Betuwestroom contract, by refunding the part of that energy bill.
- Cooperative GOED which distributes the proceeds of its green generated power to families in need.
- Or, for example, donate to the Chance Fund, which runs a wonderful initiative that allows you to directly help families in poverty by literally “just giving money.
Important to know: if you choose this form of direct assistance, you quickly find yourself in a maze of regulations and government interventions. To avoid having your financial contribution cut directly into any other benefits, it is a good idea to coordinate with the municipality. They could, for example, raise the gift limit for families on welfare.
Another way in which you, more structurally, contribute to lower energy bills is by helping households save energy. Again, this can be done in several ways:
- By using part of the proceeds to benefit members (or other families) who want to make their homes more sustainable; something many cooperatives are already doing, see, for example, the Windbird Sustainability Fund.
- Providing customized advice with neighborhood energy coaches, or helping entire neighborhoods on a joint sustainability plan, such as Deltawind
- Or by working together with your cooperative or other collective to save energy on Nov. 19: samendewinterdoor.nu
Finally, as an operator of an energy project, you can of course provide customized budgets for community initiatives that members or local residents propose, as Almeerse Wind does.