Positive steps in the new bill by the Ministry of Environment and Energy – Improvements deemed necessary to enhance citizens’ participation in the energy transition

The Green Tank contributed with comments to the public consultation on the draft bill of the Ministry of Environment and Energy “Modernization of the legislation on the use and production of electricity from Renewable Energy Sources – Transposition of the EU Directives 2018/2001 and 2019/944”. The consultation period is 15-27 February 2023.

The new bill marks the transposition of EU Directives 2018/2001 (Renewable Energy Directive – RED II) and 2019/944 (Internal Electricity Market Directive, IEMD) into the national law, making a necessary institutional step forward to enhance citizen’s organization and intervention in the energy transition.

The transposition complements the national legal framework for citizens’ participation in the energy transition established in 2018 under the 4513/2018 law on energy communities. However, the use of the institution of energy communities to date – especially for meeting own energy needs and not for profit – is not free of obstacles. Therefore, the transposition of the two Directives constitutes an opportunity to strengthen the necessary supportive framework for the healthy development and further enhancement of the role of local communities in the energy transition.

The new bill includes many positive elements, such as:

  • Τhe potential to use public funds to financially support (virtual) net metering projects as well as energy storage projects.
  • The inclusion of energy communities in the development law as a distinct form of cooperative organization.
  • The establishment of a limit on the percentage of profits that can be shared among members, given that the main objective of the energy community institution should not be to gain profits.
  • Τhe legal provision of up to 2 GW grid space exclusively for (virtual) net metering projects.
  • The connection of virtual net metering projects to the High Voltage Grid.
  • The removal of the obligation for all members of an energy communities to be registered to the same provider for the application of virtual net metering.
  • Resolving the self-production problems for residential apartment buildings.
  • The prohibition of transfer of producer’s and other certificates .
  • The autonomous management of restricted grids by energy communities.

However, some of the new bill provisions are problematic and must be amended. In specific:

  • The provision for three categories of energy communities in three different pieces of legislation with many overlaps among them creates confusion as to the purpose of each category and the differences among them.
  • The minimum number of members required for the establishment of a Renewable Energy Community (REC) (60), is high, constituting a disincentive for the creation of RECs and Citizens Energy Communities (CECs), thus depriving citizens, especially in remote or mountainous areas, of the possibility to participate in these schemes and in the energy transition.
  • There is no guarantee that access to the grid and financial resources will be prioritized for self-production projects that have proven difficulties in obtaining financial support and access to bank lending.
  • A development fund to support energy communities and an information hub for energy communities is still missing.
  • The application of virtual net metering for small and medium-sized enterprises and non-profit legal entities is not ensured.
  • The compliance of CEC’s with the cooperative values is not ensured.
  • There is no provision for public access to the statutes and contact details of Renewable Energy Communities and Citizen Energy Communities.
  • The bill provides for the introduction of proportional charges for self-producers in the future, irrespective of their financial capacity and without sufficient justification.
  • It is not specified whether the existing energy communities of the law 4513/2018 can continue to apply for virtual net metering projects and financing.

The Green Tank’s comments and recommendations with their relevant argumentation can be found here (in Greek).