Energy cooperatives refer to a business model where citizens jointly own and participate in renewable energy (RES) or energy efficiency (EE) projects. In energy cooperatives citizens are involved in both the decision making and financial & economical participation. All citizens are eligible to participate.9
Active customers might be individual citizens, households, non-commercial organisations, public entities and SME’s that not only consume energy, but also actively participate in the energy market, either individually or collectively, involved through an ‘energy community’. Active participation in the market may consist in producing renewable energy, enhancing energy efficiency and/or energy system management and grid integration of fluctuating renewable energy sources through demand side response, aggregation, storage, etc. Active customers should get easy access to the grid and to energy markets at favourable conditions.
Citizen cooperatives do not necessarily need to have the legal statute of a cooperative, but rather distinguish themselves by the way they do business. They typically respect 7 principles that have been outlined by the International Cooperative Alliance:26
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Economic Participation through Direct Ownership
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Cooperation among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
All citizens should be eligible to join. After purchasing a cooperative share and becoming a member or co-owner of local RES and EE projects, members share in the profits and often are given the opportunity to buy the electricity at a favourable price. In addition, members can actively participate in the cooperative: they can decide in what and where the cooperative should invest, and are consulted when setting the energy price.
As the example of successfully implemented citizen cooperative the best practice from Judenburg, Austria was identified by BOOSTEE-CE consortium:
PV installations as a sale & lease back model in Judenburg, Austria
The Stadwerke Judenburg AG (ESCO, 100 % owned by the municipality of Judenburg) planned and installed a PV – system on a green field at the west-end of the City of Judenburg. The PV-system has a power of 500 kWp and consists of 2.000 PV-modules.
The innovative part is that the citizens of the city and customers of the Stadtwerke can participate in this model in a public private partnership model called SALE & LEASE BACK, this means people can buy from 1 to max 10 PV modules for a price of 650 €/unit, maximum investment per person is 6.500 €. These people get an interest rate of 3,125 % on their investment, which is significantly more compared to a bank account, without any risks.
Best practice Factsheet #10 to this project is available on BOOSTEE-CE OnePlace platform, in the section Financing Energy Efficiency and involves comprehensive information on the measures of the action, key results, financial details etc.