Eeklo is one of the 15 finalists of the European Social Innovation Competition who have been selected for their outstanding energy poverty program. This scheme, which has been developed and launched in the framework of the POWER UP project, will enable low-income households to become members of an energy cooperative. How?
The city pre-finances cooperative shares and lends these to people who would not be able to pay this upfront cost on their own. Over several years, these beneficiaries will then pay the share back through a small monthly fee. As of day one, though, the shareholders will be full members of the Ecopower cooperative including all rights that come with it such as getting renewable energy at a fair price or having in voice at Ecopower’s decision-making. This rolling fund of pre-financed social energy shares makes local renewable energy accessible for all. It is a first of its kind in Europe and has great potential to be implemented in other local governments wanting to help people in energy poverty.
See here who else is on the list of finalists. Final winners will be announced in November.
Get a glimpse of Eeklo and its citizens
Quite many of Eeklo’s citizens are aware of the potential that local renewable energy production brings. Meet two of them in this BBC Documentary: a retired couple who is very active in the Belgian Ecopower cooperative. When still working, they managed a music club and made people dance along the fanciest tunes. Now, in their older days, those two seniors are making sure the wind dances around citizen-owned turbines.
Thanks to community involvement, in the last twenty years, the small city of Eeklo has built 22 wind turbines, facing no significant local opposition. Through the innovative shares scheme launched by the Eeklo City Council, vulnerable people will be able to enjoy similar advantages of this locally-produced wind and solar energy.