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EMPOWERING, how to better involve citizens in collective efforts to control energy demand

Summary : ALEC is currently participating in the EMPOWERING European project with the supplier and network manager Gas and Electricity of Grenoble (GEG) and the HESPUL association. This project has the objective of developing tools which allow individuals to better understand their electricity and gas bills and thus realise energy savings.

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Programme

  • Start date : April 2013
  • Implementation site : Grenoble
  • Budget : 326000 €
  • Source and details on funding : Intelligent Energy Europe Programme
  • Appendix n°1
  • Appendix n°2

Organisation(s)

Website

Localisation

Editorial committee

  • Date of proofreading :  18/06/2015
Opinion of the Committee : Should be generalized !
Solution(s) : Fuel poverty
Country :  France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Stature of the programme :  Local, International
Participant :  Association, ONG
  • Beneficiaries :  Urban population
  • Domain :  Energy

Reports collected as part of the RESOLIS programme « Energy Poverty »

Copyright: Licence Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ )
To reference a document published by RESOLIS : de Geoffroy Violaine , « EMPOWERING, how to better involve citizens in collective efforts to control energy demand », **Journal RESOLIS** (2015)

Background to the programme

Public awareness of the challenges of climate change is progressing; however, individuals remain unconcerned with these issues in their daily lives.

However each energy consumer receives regular energy bills; this bill could be a medium for raising awareness and trigger action but their actual format (regulated) makes them difficult to understand.

Empowering is a European project which aims to make energy bills more understandable and useful.

Objectives of the programme

- To make energy consumers more responsible and autonomous (empowerment) vis-à-vis their energy consumption by offering simple tools to enable them to better understand their electricity and gas bills.

- For the energy supplier GEG: to maintain quality of customer relations by offering a free service to help monitor consumption, improve data analysis of energy consumption and develop information systems.

- For ALEC and Hespul (partner association): to greatly raise awareness on energy savings and reach a wide audience who don't know the Energy Information Spaces (EIA).

Implemented actions

Project Duration: April 2013 - September 2015

- Recruitment of volunteer households among the customers of GEG to test and give their opinion on services. Medium for recruitment: GEG Agency, with co-homeowners involved in the mur|mur (wall|wall) insulation campaign via websites, mails and EIA consultation hotlines ...)

- Development of services: collection and definition of needs by relying on voluntary customers, consumer associations and actors in the energy sector. Development by GEG of 4 online services for electricity, two online services for gas and a combined electricity-gas service (see examples in the annex). Continuous improvement of tools based on feedback from consumers and staff from GEG, Hespul and ALEC.

- Simultaneously, a sociological study on the appropriation of these tools by consumers, carried out by ALEC and IEP in Grenoble (questionnaires and interviews)

- Communication by GEG with consumers to train them in the use of these tools and to increase the number of active users.

Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions

Currently (April 2015) the services are available to 7000 customers, a hundred or so use them regularly.

A sociological study was conducted to evaluate the appropriation of these tools by households and to feed the debate on how to adapt the tools and support. The study is ongoing in order to better understand the profiles and the expectations, levers and barriers to behaviour change.

The evaluation conducted as part of the European project will aim to assess both:

- The change that this type of service involves for energy suppliers

- Feedback from users of these services.

Original characteristics

- These consumption monitoring tools do not require specific instruction (of the type, networked counter or box energie), they rely solely on the data used for billing. They are therefore easily transferable.

- The panel of investigators is quite representative of the Grenoble population (not only CSP managers). In particular, the qualitative sociological study includes a significant number of people in vulnerable situations or fuel poverty (13 out of 27 interviewed).

Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme

Operational partners:

-Gas And Electricité de Grenoble (GEG)
- Hespul (Association working on energy efficiency and renewable energy, EIE)
- Sciences Po Grenoble


European partners (5 countries, 12 partners):

-CIMNE
- LINZ
- EL GAS + Gisce
- IREN + Polito + Sinergie
- Powerlink

Financial partners:

- Europe (IEE Programme)
- ADEME

Feedback

Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :

- Significant technical work to structure the energy consumption database and make the services reliable on the basis of a very limited amount of data (the meters are read every 6 months).

- Difficulties in publicising the billing software, the calculation engine and the online agency: difficult to develop these tools in a fluid and transparent manner.

- Online only tools: difficult to make consumers come onto the web platform, particularly a financially insecure audience.

Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :

- To increase the use of services: targeted mails to consumers who already manage their bills online.

- To come: organisation of the special Empowering workshop, Ready (see Resolis file: http://resolis.org/fiche-pratique/ateliers-ready-ateliers-reflexe-energie-a-domicile/106) with co-homeowners already with several active users.

Suggestions for future improvement :

- To reach an economically insecure public: use of these services by the GEG Energy Solidarity Advisers.

- For the develop of these tools to be taken on internally at GEG to achieve more fluidity for consumers and to possibly allow the sending of these tools with paper invoices.

Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :

- Involving the energy suppliers' IT departments more seriously.

- Developing consumer support either via EIA-type organisatipns or through the creation and organisation of a community of users.

- Combining information on energy consumption with other types of information to encourage their appropriation and their daily use.

To know more

Visit the websites:

http://www.alec-grenoble.org/6174-projet-empowering.htm
http://iee-empowering.eu/en/

Annexes:

- Presentation of the European project Empowering

- Examples of IT services developed and offered to households


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