Together with 9 other organisations and initiatives, on 16 February 2021, EmpowerMed partner Focus sent a call to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to stop the increase in energy poverty due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
In Slovenia, the Covid-19 epidemic has increased energy use due to ‘being trapped at home’. With the simultaneous loss of all or part of incomes, the risk of energy poverty has increased for many in Slovenia. Statistical office of Slovenia reports that the consumption of electricity in households in the first six months of 2020 was higher in all months except May than in the same period last year. The difference between monthly consumption in 2020 compared to 2019 was the largest in March, when it was 9% higher than in March 2019. Statistical office attibutes higher electricity consumption in households in this period to the changed conditions caused by covid-19, as more people stayed at home for various reasons during this time (eg because of work from home, waiting for work, due to school closure). The data of utility company Elektro Maribor shows a similar picture: the consumption of households in 2020 was as much as 5.3% higher, which is the largest increase since 2008.
Extensive government measures significantly alleviated the material hardships of households due to the covid-19 epidemic last year. Nevertheless, the number of materially endangered households in 2020 increased by 8000. Therefore, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia is asked to, as part of the adoption of the Acts on Measures to Mitigate the Consequences of COVID-19 (so-called PKP laws):
1. prohibit disconnection from electricity and gas for the duration of the epidemic,
2. allocate the necessary financial resources for households receiving social assistance, or protection allowance, for the payment of increased energy costs in the amount of at least EUR 100 and
3. repay debts to energy suppliers that incurred during the Covid-19 epidemic, if the debt was caused by the person’s unemployment or a significant reduction in income during the Covid-19 epidemic, or at least introduce the right to defer payment of energy costs.
In addition to that, the 10 organisations and initiatives call on the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to legally regulate the ban on disconnection from various forms of energy between 1 October and 31 March, i.e. during the heating season in the case of a retired person living alone, a person living with a child or children up to the age of 5, a person with disabilities or a person who has long-term health problems, and a person in serious financial difficulties.
Milieukontakt with the support of young volunteers’ group, within the EmpowerMed project has started the process of energy audit of the target group in the Municipality of Vlora. The first visits were made to families lead by female households, supported with economic assistance, elderly and other groups in need, who live in energy poverty conditions. These are the categories which have difficulty in paying the electricity bill and do not have the opportunity to heat their homes adequately during the winter or keep them cool during the summer. Also, the visited households cannot make the necessary investments to improve energy efficiency, which would provide them with better living conditions and economic benefits, thus paying less for the energy they consume.
The volunteers in the discussion with the family members asked if they have heat loss, insufficient insulation of doors and windows, humidity, etc. They were advised specifically on the difficulties and problems presented by households for poor economic conditions, which affect energy poverty and lack of other vital services in general. Households got information on health problems that are related to lack of comfort conditions both in winter and summer season.
The project donated to households some devices that serves to save electricity such as insulation for doors and windows, LED lamps, power extender, shower heads, etc. Installation was followed with advices from auditors on electric equipment maintenance, energy and water saving tips. By controlling their consumption, they will be able to control their electricity and water bills.
The EmpowerMed project aims to contribute to alleviation of energy poverty and improving the health of people affected by energy poverty in coastal areas with a special focus on women, through practical measures adapted to empower families affected by energy poverty and the selection of appropriate energy sources.
The opinion piece reflects upon this critical review of EU-funded projects from an energy poverty and spatial and gender inequalities perspective, which EmpowerMed published earlier this year.
As a summary of recommendations, the report calls to:
– reconsider energy saving through behaviour change goals as vulnerable households often struggle to achieve a minimum level of domestic energy services for a life with dignity;
– carefully incorporate gender dimensions and avoid the reinforcing dominant household relationships and models in climate and energy poverty action;
– re-empower affected households beyond a symptomatic treatment of energy poverty.
IREC and UAB, two of our EmpowerMed partners will participate to the Annual IEEE Canada Power and Energy Conference which be held November 9-10, 2020, and will be moving to a virtual delivery.
The article entitled : “Smart Meters Tackling Energy Poverty Mitigation: Uses, Risks and Approaches » was capable to find its place in this technology focussed conference, highlighting the relevance to put technology at the service of people and not just for profit; the (on-line) presentation will be made the week of 9 November.
The full article will be published in the proceedings of the conference some days later.
On September 30th, the Geres was in the final at the Stop Exclusion Energy Trophies! The ceremony took place at the Ministry of Ecological Transition with the Fondation des Transitions in Paris.
Alongside 23 laureates, we presented our action to fight against energy poverty in the Mediterranean focused on health, gender and empowerment.
On this occasion, the local newspaper La Provence devoted us a nice article promoting our action!
Unfortunately, we were not selected by the jury. But we haven’t said our last word! See you in 2021, even more determined than ever! We won’t give up. A big thanks to our EmpowerMed partners and our financial partners.
Even if we were finally not selected, the last words of the ceremony were dedicated to Europe and women, two main pillars of EmpowerMed ! Therefore more motivated than ever to apply again next year.
Our partners participated in the twelfth EmpowerMed online meeting on 3rd September. The aim was to discuss tools to support households, dissemination of deliverables to relevant targets/institutions/experts, communication & financial activities, preparation of autumn meeting.
On April, 30th Marie Maud Gerard from Geres participated to an insightful e-workshop on Energy poverty and Energy transition with CIFE- a private institution of higher education.
During this time, Marie Maud presented a unit named « How to involve energy poor households to make the energy transition more inclusive ? The example of the Mediterranean countries in Europe and the EmpowerMed projet. » She shown UE energy poverty key figures and explained how summer heat impacts low income households in higher proportions. Moreover, Marie Maud highlighted concretes consequences of energy poverty and gave some solutions to involve poor households on energy transition. Then, she presented the EmpowerMed project and ended her presentation with a Q&A session.
This e-workshop was very useful and permitted to underlign the necessity of tackling energy poverty to suceed in energy transition. Indeed, this session was with the participation of CIFE’s students who are potentials future decision-makers.
The first meeting of the EmpowerMed project was held in Barcelona. For 4 days, from 21 to 25 October 2019, 9 partners from 7 countries gathered to discuss how to tackle the Mediterranean challenges of energy poverty.
Apart from project meeting, partners also had intense capacity building workshops on energy poverty, mobilization of social actors, gender issues and health They also had the opportunity to get to know each other better, because they will have to work together for four years.
Are you stakeholders working on energy poverty, gender or health? If you want to join us, do not hesitate to contact your country’s partner or Focus, our coordinator, for other countries.
The EmpowerMed project has started on September, 2019 and ESF has already got off to the best possible start by realizing five collective assemblies in Barcelona, on 23/10/2019, 06/11/2019, 20/11/2019, 04/12/2019, 18/12/2019.
Collective advisory assembly has targeted households affected by
energy poverty with lack of self-confidence.
people participated, including 52 women.
to our partner to strengthen the empowerment of poor people.