An essential discovery of experience exchange: municipalities miss an energy manager
Six bilateral visits, tens hours of discussion, around 20 places visited by Czech mayors in Waldviertel Kernland (WK) region, several inspirational places in the CR visited by Austrian partners – this is a brief summary of the experience exchange in terms of the project “100% RES communities”.
A twinning principle seems to be valuable rather at the level of general organizational principles and practices than in possible use of technological or administrative details. Because every project “is tailored” to local conditions and the legal framework is different too. But general working methods are transferable.
A key example: Local energy appointees are the basic building block of stable development of green energy in the Austrian countryside. They are usually working for the whole group of municipalities in the region. They advise to citizens and mayors, calculate of variants, agitate, organize local energy days, prepare grant applications, supervise project tasks fulfilment. They just make (subsidized by the government and the Federal Lands!) everything what municipal representatives do not manage and what they would have dearly submit to energy agencies. Thomas Waldhans is such a person who solves everything important in our partner WK region. He works as a power-engineering specialist for both his community and 13 villages of small so-called “model climatic region”. He also partly works for about 50 villages of large so-called “LEADER region”. His lion's share was found in most projects. What our mayors would not give to have someone like that at home!
Unfortunately such a practice does not exist in our country and seems to be unrealistic in the near future. There has not been such a grant in the CR so far, no this way oriented future proposal, which would be still just short-term solution but municipalities need this specialist in the long term.
A certain possibility has arisen from discussions how to use (at least for five years of joint SEAP implementation in LAG Mezilesí) an employee of the nearest advisory centre EKIS in Hradec Králové. An engineer came already twice to the Kněžice region to offer advice for citizens during energy days organized in the frame of our project. However, the interest of people was very low despite of previous promotion. There is an advantage the EKIS advisers are paid by the government. So it is necessary to engage them not in common consultations but more in very specific local projects preparation. It would be great to offer regular consultancy once a month at the same place and simultaneously more agitate among citizens. A municipal subsidy (maybe combined with a loan) for inhabitants could encourage their interest in RES utilization and energy efficiency measures. A usable model saw mayors in Jindřichovice.
If municipalities of LAG Mezilesí will be able to put this piece of knowledge in practise depends on them now.
Author: Karel Merhaut
Photo: Táňa Dutkevičová