European Commission reforms of state aid should support community energy projects – not make them compete with large-scale commercial renewables – says a letter by the Community Power Coalition.
Community energy campaigners have written to the European Commission to demand EU state aid reforms should be revised to allow more EU governments and regions to support community energy projects.
Two key mechanisms currently restrict support for community projects and threaten to force citizen-owned energy to compete against large-scale commercial wind and solar farms:
- The General Block Exemption Regulation (which exempts special categories of businesses or industries from normal state aid rules);
- The draft new Climate, Energy and Environmental State aid Guidelines (which is revising the state aid rules in the field of climate and energy in order to align them with the European Green Deal).
The coalition calls on European Commission Vice Presidents Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager to include provisions and references in both in order to support renewable energy communities. This would bring state aid in line with EU renewable energy laws – which gives special priority to citizen and community energy projects – and make competition law a more supportive tool for a climate safe future, not a barrier.
And the letter calls for specific thresholds for renewable energy communities to exempt them from competitive bidding (set at 1MW solar projects and 18MW for wind).
“To achieve the European Green Deal targets, we need citizen and community engagement, which is vital to ensure the acceptance of this colossal transformation… Without the engagement of communities, citizens and local governments in the energy transition, there is a risk of backlash and anti-renewables sentiment taking hold… State aid should include provisions and references to support renewable energy communities,” says the coalition.