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Simon Luyts:

"The collaboration in the case of Ghent emerged out of a citizen initiative. The city was not actively looking for a partner in the energy transition, but the city has a strong culture of engaging citizens and fostering a bottom-up approach. When EnerGent proposed to contribute and complement the service the city already provides, they were seen as welcome partners. The city has already its own energy service: the “Energiecentrale”. This is a contact point for citizens to address all the questions concerning energy efficient renovation. Citizens can get a free energy audit of the house and get advice on which measures to implement. Additionally, EnerGent launched the project “Wijkwerf” (Neighborhood construction site), an initiative to facilitate the combined renovation of private houses by engaging a whole neighborhood. This project is facilitated by the city of Ghent in two ways. This first one is through technical advice: the city’s “Energiecentrale” has already the technical expertise and is freely available for its citizens. Energent uses this service, and complements it with a full support in the renovation process. Another way the city supports Energent is through subsidizing a part of the full time employee’s wage. This subsidy is part of the city’s support program for citizen initiatives which promote sustainability. Additionally, the city of Ghent facilitates the startup of the cooperative by providing a place for the cooperative to organize its meetings. The service the cooperative provides in return, is addressing a neighborhood and engaging the people to do a renovation together. This way they take advantage of better prices and are facilitated by the cooperative along the renovation process. The cooperative goes from door to door to talk to the people, and communicates the message on a very personal level. The cooperative also supports the mission of the city to become climate neutral through their “solar city campaign”, facilitating the installation of PV on the roofs of citizens. The city facilitated this by providing a map with the solar potential of the rooftops in the city. Ghent also actively promotes the “solar city campaign” by using its networks, website, and spreads flyers to reach the citizens.

Another way how the city of Ghent facilitated the cooperative is through the project “Buurzame Stroom”. It is a project which emerged out of “sustainable neighborhoods”, a support program the city initiated to encourage citizen initiatives focusing on sustainability. The project consists of balancing out the energy consumption on neighborhood level, through generation of electricity (solar PV and Cogeneration), energy storage (heat, cold, and electricity), Electric Vehicles, demand side management and demand response management to minimize the impact on the distribution network. The Cooperative was invited by the city to become a partner in the project. The city finances part of the project, assists and organizes some of meetings, and she has a networking role, connecting the different players needed to compose the consortium. The electric vehicles are provided by another cooperative Partago, an electrical car sharing cooperative. Partago works closely together with other REScoops and mobility cooperatives over Europe, such as SOM mobilitat. This too is a citizen initiative providing an answer to the challenge of clean mobility." (https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Collaboration_between_Local_Authorities_and_Renewable_Energy_Cooperatives)