How Cities Can Back Renewable Energy Communities

February 8, 2022

In many nations, local governments control a large portion of the grid, which is great as long as they’re held accountable democratically. Nevertheless, in recent times, there’s a tendency to make electric distribution networks private, based on the assumption that private management is inherently “efficient.”  

This rationale can only be applicable if there is genuine market competition—conversely, this lacks in energy distribution sectors. Communities and cities can collaborate at distinct phases to fully evolve in renewable energy use, from distribution, supply, balancing, and storage to energy conservation.

The transition to renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, or even installations of solar hervey bay requires the cooperation of city authorities with the community. Here is a non-exhaustive overview of current models and emerging trends of city-to-community collaboration throughout the many roles and elements of the energy economy via different organizational structures.

1. Long-Term Energy and Climate Plans Merged with Community Owned Goals

This high objective depends on significant sums of private funds. These particular funds are in the form of individual savings. At the same time, public backing for new policies and developments via a shared governance and ownership framework is critical for a unison front towards the objective.

All of this necessitates a greater degree of public participation, not just via initiatives on the spot but through a coordinated and comprehensive approach supported by a prolonged agreement.

2. Requiring Developers to Invite Citizens to Participate in Their Initiatives

Authorities can initiate legalized community-centered approaches for developers, such as providing an ownership percentage of a green energy project to the community members. It will provide opportunities for more people to participate and learn about renewable energy. 

At the same time,  it will also give room for actual scrutinization while encouraging integrity and generating ideas. Local authorities can push for laws to regionalize renewable energy sources like wind energy and then initiate local laws to allow citizens participation.

3. Guiding Future Neighborhood Developments in the Direction of Community Energy

Local governments, who are usually in charge of land use, can adopt modern green city development initiatives, such as building environmentally friendly neighborhoods to guide industry players in the direction of energy solutions for communities.

Besides, they can initiate projects to renovate or build renewable district thermal systems for heating linked to the city’s goals. These initiatives will increase public involvement in the energy economy. For instance, when authorities grant citizen cooperatives concession contracts to carry out renewable energy projects.

4. Fostering Rural-Urban Co-operation

While energy consumption is high in metropolitan areas because of the population, there could be a desire to engage in green initiatives. But the alternatives for starting large-scale clean energy infrastructure might be constrained.

Cities and urban centers usually have a deficit of structural energy resources. Therefore, their initiative to get to 100% green energy relies on the cooperation they forge with the rural communities. They can gain from the excess production of the easily accessible wind, biofuels, agricultural areas, and other renewable resources in the rural areas.

Unfortunately, there is also the political problem of forging unity for one front on the renewable energy initiative. Local governments may strive to form regional alliances of solidarity, pooling resources and expertise to work on tangible initiatives with people and stakeholders from adjacent jurisdictions.

5. Relying on Community Participation and Planning

City authorities have grasped the concept of people as more than passive consumers of public infrastructures and services better than state governments. 

Whereas energy and environmental planning has usually occurred at the national level with little or no participation from civil society, cities have a long history of engaging their people in long-term plans for community growth.

When developing new institutional techniques, platforms, networks, and tools for greater community involvement, local and regional governments are always inventive.

Local governments may use such capabilities to target and assist specific groups, foster ideas, exchange information, and debate problems and possibilities related to the legislative, regulatory, and financing environment for energy and climate initiatives.

6. Acquiring Energy in an Informed Way

Local and regional governments may influence how and from whom energy is bought by modifying their procedures or assisting community groups in making better-informed choices. These can also introduce schemes that buy in bulk to reduce costs for the community members. 

Besides, they can also initiate a tendering policy to ensure that the energy they buy from renewable sources aligns with their community ownership scale-up vision.

7. Creating A Solid Collaboration with Regional and National Governments

Access to assistance programs, cost of financing, and overall investor confidence are all key factors that enable community groups with fewer resources to make the jump to less-certain ventures. Conventional business models have been impacted in recent years by legal obstacles presented by states and intense competition resulting from market-based support mechanisms.

Policy changes of community energy organizations are needed to meet this issue

Furthermore, authorities should grant communities and individual consumers the freedom to generate, use, save, and sell energy without being subjected to exorbitant fees.

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