24-10-2019

The Citizen Energy Forum 2019

The EEMG participated this year again to the 11th Citizens’ Energy Forum which took place in Dublin on Thursday, September 12, and Friday, September 13. Just after the presentation of the list of the new European commissioners by Ursula von der Leyen, the new president of the European Commission there was a lot to expect. This year welcomed the Youth representatives from Europe to join the discussions. It was the first time the forum gave voices to the youth generation and it added some arguments in the debates.

The EEMG participated this year again to the 11th Citizens’ Energy Forum which took place in Dublin on Thursday, September 12, and Friday, September 13. Just after the presentation of the list of the new European commissioners by Ursula von der Leyen, the new president of the European Commission there was a lot to expect. This year welcomed the Youth representatives from Europe to join the discussions. It was the first time the forum gave voices to the youth generation and it added some arguments in the debates.

This forum meets annually to debate about consumers' perspective and role in the EU energy market. Many representatives were here to add they point of view to the discussion:  Monic Goyens, Director General of European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), Aoife MacEvilly, CRU Commissioner, Marie Donnelly from Renewable energy Ireland, Adina-Jerzy Buzek, Green Party MEP, David Kerins Senior Energy Economist EIB, Ciaran Cuffe from Green Party MEP, Annegret Groebel, President of the Council or European Energy Regulators (CEER), Marie-Paule Benassi, European Commission’s Acting Director for Consumers DG justice, and  a young activist Dan Hatter from Fridays for the Future.

Richard Burton, Minister of Communication of Ireland, opened the session reminding how energy transition is the priority of the next coming years for Europe, based on renewables, energy efficiency, storage, sustainable energy communities, dialogue, new roles and consumer rights, new digital tools, new connections, smart grids and meters and sustainable finance.

“Over the last two years we have discussed the role of consumers in the energy transition intensively in this forum to prepare the Clean Energy Package. Now we are looking forward and discussing the implementation and application of this legal framework. We are asking: Have we done enough to empower the consumers, to protect the consumers, and to make them aware of the opportunities and possibilities? ” These were the word of Deputy Director-General of DG ENERGY, Klaus-Dieter Borchadt, at the opening of the session. He gave the tone of the discussions that we would have during the forum and strongly reminded the European Green Deal announced by the new President of the European Commission, and the zero emission target.

Our first workshop topic was about ensuring a fair and inclusive energy transition for all. Adina-Jerzy Buzek insisted on the means to succeed. The Energy transition fund has been allocated with 5 billion €. It is an additional and separate budget form the energy and climate budget. He also insisted on how gas and gas infrastructures were essential to succeed energy transition. Jerzy Buzek (Green Party MEP) said: “In recent months, we witnessed big protests in Europe from the young generation for pro climate and the yellow jackets in France protesting high energy prices. Both these issues have the same denominator, which is the energy transition. That is why the Clean Energy Package for all Europeans is so important.”

Indeed, in a period of changes, appears new opportunities for customers. Soon people will be able to produce and sell their own electricity, digitals tools will enter the energy system and a world first law book for this new energy system. But the citizens expect a lot from these changes and it will be role of the European organism to reach their expectations towards a green planet for all. Renewables, efficiency energy building and electricity market design (free trade in EU): everything should be done to succeed in having a climate neutral for 2050. This was the European commission position.

The principal question debated was:  how make the consumers participate to the energy transition?

The energy market system is complex and difficult to understand. Our discussion is about the role of consumers and if we want them to have a place and an impact in this system, we need them to understand it. Indeed consumers need to own the energy transition and we have to help them by make it fun.

For example, CEP has started to change the relation of consumers to energy, and make their business model to facilitate the access of the energy market. Also, information on how the price is made has to be given to consumers, otherwise, they will not trust the system.

Monique Goyens reminded to all that energy transition should keep things simple, fun, affordable, and worth wide. And that Europe should be careful to maintain an inclusive approach. As EEMG members, we have a role to play offering  an alternative way to solve disputes, for free, in a fair and faster way.

One solution to make the consumers participate to the energy transition may be to copy the Innovation funding in Ireland who allows innovation to happen but in a controlled environment. Different tools and systems could be created and tested safely. The consumers get involved and understand their rights. Unfortunately, there are some lateness and some insecurities around these rights but it is one the key elements of a successful transition.

The speed of the transition depends on the consumers, the support for the consumers and the information to the consumers. Information shall be given to them and be reliable. Communication will be the key to give them the information: communicate with the consumers and make finance available in an effective way. For example, Germany and Belgium offer funding supports. It should be done for social consumers.

Other discussion were held around topics like: engaging citizens in their energy transition, sustainable finance for greener and cleaner energy for consumers and finally a next step in the energy transition for consumers.

The Citizens' Dialogue with Youth took place as an interactive plenary where the moderator, Professor Jean-Michel Glachant of the Florence School of Regulation, hosted an audience that also included representatives of Youth organizations from across Europe and different parts of Ireland.

“We have very diverse groups of consumers that will benefit in different ways from the novelties and new markets. Each one will not be asking the same question. That is the issue we have and the issue we will look at with a group of fantastic panelists,” said Jean-Michel Glachant.

EEMG will continue to participate and contribute to European debates and proposals, bringing its experience of consumer demands and expectations.

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