The Covenant signatory Almere (Netherlands), coordinates between different administrations and suppliers to reduce energy debt for vulnerable households through financial and energy counselling and the installation of solar panels on social housing units.
The municipality of Almere and its partners is very active in the fight against energy poverty, especially to reduce disconnection of electrical and heating networks, that generates consequences in terms of wellbeing and cost for both the energy supplier and the citizen.
In 2016, two social housing corporations in Almere created an initiative in order to lower energy bills in small individual social housing units. First, the residents are visited by energy coaches from a network of energy ambassadors coordinated by the municipality. They inform them about energy-saving behaviours (such as spending less time in the shower), but also about energy-saving devices (such as thermostatic radiator valves). In addition, the social housing corporations install solar panels on the roofs. Each house has four to six solar panels installed on its roof, and they supply two households. This yields the most favourable returns, since not all the roofs are fitted for solar panels. These installations are financed by the coorporations and the residents pay €14 per month, which equals €5 euros monthly savings compared to average electricity bills.Thanks to the project, the residents are more aware of their energy consumption and their energy bill is lowered considerably. The project also contributes to CO2 emission reduction.
In February 2017, the city and its partners created the “Vroeg Eropaf” project (“Get on it Early”). This project relies on the city-founded debt care organization, PLANgroep. Within the frame of this project, companies have to notify a debt counsellor whenever any household gets two months behind in paying energy bills. If the same household is found to be in debt with more than 2 organizations, it will be visited by a debt counsellor for PLANgroep and a social worker who will figure out how to help the citizen paying their energy bills both immediately and in the long run.
Thanks to the city's initiative, 1200 households were equipped with solar panels since 2016, generating an average €35 monthly saving per households. Between February and November 2017, 290 households were provided with debt counselling, helping to reduce energy vulnerability.
Picture credits: Anja de Graaff