Beckerich: Energy Autonomy and Political Demands
The small municipality of Beckerich in Luxembourg is set to become energy-sufficient. The implementation of this ambitious vision, embodied by the dedicated Mayor Camille Gira, is bearing fruit in terms of local economic development and the municipality’s international reputation.
After fifteen years of active climate protection, Beckerich produces 90 per cent of its low-voltage current and 30 per cent of its heat demand. In 2010, the village has sold heat for a value of 400.000 Euro, and many activities have developed momentum among the 2.200 citizens. “This money stays in the municipality and benefits the local economy”, says Gira. Whilst Beckerich is making the most from the enormous wind, solar and biomass potential specific to rural areas, its SEAP (Sustainable Energy Action Plan) has shown that the future emphasis must be placed on saving energy. The municipality provides energy audits, grants interest-free loans to low-income households and retrofits municipal buildings via contracting. However, financing remains an issue.
Trust and Transparency: Citizens Co-finance Local Climate Protection
Camille Gira explains: "To launch these activities we have had to sort out the issue of funding – no easy task. We started by setting up a private company with 150 small stakeholders. If there is no funding available from government or banks, get it from your citizens! If the money is well invested, people are ready to pay. You should always show people what you do with their money, so communication is essential. This company now employs 12 people and is considered the 'Silicon Valley' of Beckerich."
Gira has suggested that a SEAP be a must-have in order to get any European funding, and he is an avid campaigner in the Covenant of Mayors and for the objectives of Climate Alliance. In his view, the municipalities that have been at the forefront of climate protection policy, often did not receive adequate support from their national governments. Now, the Covenant of Mayor recognises these achievements at the highest level of the European institutions: "It provides very important moral support for committed local decision makers, but still the Commission will have to provide the necessary financing instruments for investments on a local and regional level, such as zero-interest loans from the European Investment Bank."
30 years working towards energy self-sufficiency: Covenant of Mayors case study
Beckerich joined the Covenant of Mayors in 2008. You want to learn more about successful policies implemented in the framework of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan of the small municipality? Then have a look at the case study on Bekerich of the Covenant of Mayors Office!
Beckerich website (in German and French):