Bolstering the knowledge of NGOs so that they can better help the families that need it most. This is the main objective of the collaboration agreement signed by Endesa, the Environmental Science Association (in Spanish, Asociación de Ciencias Ambientales, or ACA) and the European Anti-Poverty Network, Spain (EAPN-ES). Within this context, 5 energy-related training courses will be offered under the title of “Energy Poverty: Keys to Energy Efficiency and Savings in Vulnerable Households” and, in this first phase, they will be held in Mérida, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Palma de Majorca, and Seville during the month of November. Around one hundred social work NGOs are expected to participate, thus enhancing the work they do in providing advice and support to vulnerable families. It is estimated that, as a whole, the social organisations that are going to participate in the programme offer assistance to some 37,000 families each year, 1 out of every 5 of which it is presumed experiences energy vulnerability.
There are four primary aims in the content of the events:
- To engage the organisations and associations that work with vulnerable groups in the observation work and the fight against poverty in general and energy poverty in particular.
- To educate tertiary sector organisations about the make-up of the electricity bill and the options available for optimising it, as well as other aspects such as energy-saving habits and affordable energy efficiency measures, so that they can inform households, thereby reducing their energy vulnerability.
- To explain the new social rebate for electricity, preparing social organisations as regards its scope of application, requirements, deadlines and coverage, so that they can recommend and provide guidance in implementing this measure.
- To inform and educate NGOs on the procedures for power cuts due to non-payment and the agreements reached between regional, municipal and/or local authorities and electricity and gas retailers.
This initiative is launched within the framework of one of the goals set forth in Endesa’s Strategic Sustainability Plan, which seeks to foster access to energy for individuals in vulnerable situations. Numerous projects aligned with this goal are being carried out.
There is a series of precedents for the collaboration between the entities that are the driving forces behind this agreement. Accordingly, Endesa and ACA worked together in recent months to offer several training sessions attended by more than 150 people involved in the social services of public institutions in Madrid and Seville. These individuals were given training on energy issues to enable them to enhance the information they provide to the people they assist.
Likewise, Endesa and EAPN Madrid organised a training workshop for NGOs in the Region of Madrid on energy efficiency recommendations, explaining the electricity bill and responsible consumer habits.
Furthermore, EAPN-ES and ACA have been working together for the past two years in the organisation of three training sessions on energy poverty, which were aimed at social organisations, held in Madrid and Rioja and promoted by the respective regional EAPN-ES networks.
There is no longer any doubt that energy poverty exists and that it must be handled as a social issue in and of itself, although it remains strongly linked to poverty in general. Aware of this issue, Endesa, ACA and EAPN-ES have, for some time now, been working to find solutions and to develop new preventive and corrective measures, endeavouring to come up with a support framework for vulnerable consumers in this regard that is as effective as possible. The preventive measures include a commitment to training and information activities for these households about energy efficiency topics and/or optimising the utilities bill based on the energy usage profile of the household. To this end, an alliance has been created through this “Energy Poverty: “Keys to Energy Efficiency and Savings in Vulnerable Households” project, which multiplies the effect of what was done up to now in each area.
Endesa is also promoting other palliative measures aimed at counteracting the situation of vulnerability of these households. These measures include signing agreements with local and regional public authorities to prevent the power from being cut off for customers in vulnerable situations. At present, there are 228 agreements in place with city councils, autonomous regions and public agencies to prevent the power from being cut off and to postpone payment of the debt.
Moreover, as part of the above-mentioned goal of fostering access to energy for groups in vulnerable situations, in conjunction with Endesa Foundation, Endesa has launched theEnergy Volunteering programme, aimed at households with energy poverty situations, in which the company’s employees participate. Recommendations are provided under this programme to optimise the electricity bill and reduce energy consumption, households are given energy efficiency kits, and improvements are made to the installations in households where poor conditions pose a risk. In this second edition, the initiative was implemented in Zaragoza, Barcelona, Seville, Tenerife and Fuerteventura.
ACA plans to launch a new crowdfunding project to develop a series of cross-sector workshops about energy poverty and solutions to this issue and to support the creation of a new study, which will come out in 2018. It also continues to develop training activities aimed at opinion leaders and to work directly with vulnerable households to help them lower their bills by conducting micro-audits of their homes and advising them on how to optimise their bills, put savings habits into practice, implement energy efficiency measures or apply for aid such as the social rebate.
Furthermore, it has launched a nationwide network of Energy Consumer Information Points (in Spanish, Puntos de Información al Consumidor Energético, or PICe) throughout Spain, in an effort to reach out to citizens at numerous locations where families can ask questions and receive information. In addition, ACA is a member of the European Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV), offering its experience to this association and sharing the activities carried out in Spain to prevent and mitigate energy poverty.
In turn, EAPN ES has developed workshops in recent years on the prevention of energy poverty for individuals in vulnerable situations and for volunteers from social organisations in the tertiary sector, having arranged two sessions for experts and professionals on this subject in Madrid.
It has also published two guides: a guide on energy savings and social vulnerability targeted at volunteers, and the energy savings guide, ‘What can I do to make my home more energy efficient?’ Moreover, it has developed entertaining, participatory methods for helping both volunteers and professionals at social organisations work on energy savings and efficiency with individuals in poverty.