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Testimonial by Ecopower in REScoop Plus

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Ecopower cvba is a Belgian REScoop that started back in 1991 by collecting funds from local citizens to restore an old watermill in Rotselaar. The RES cooperative started growing rapidly after 2001 when they won a public tender to erect 3 wind turbines in Eeklo, a city in Flanders. After the liberalisation of the Flemish electricity market back in 2003, Ecopower decided to get a license and supply the energy to its members. Today the cooperative has over 50.000 members. Ecopower cvba was and still is a bit different from the traditional utilities.

  • Members literally own the production installations. They do not only share in the profits but also get access to their own renewable energy. This makes the product even more valuable. Using their own energy makes them feel quite differently in a sense that they use it more carefully and spend it in a much more rational way.
  • Ecopower also used a completely different pricing system. The cooperative charges one single price per kWh, no matter when (day or night) or how much you consume. Ecopower doesn’t charge fixed costs and the prince contains taxes, grid fees and VAT. It is very transparent and easy to understand. The energy bill is simple and straightforward: the meter literally shows how much you’re gonna pay.

Most utilities like you better when you consume more because that maximises their revenues and profits. For Ecopower cvba this is not the case. The main objective of the cooperative is to invest in local renewable energy projects. Supplying electricity is only a service to the members. Because of their limited production capacity, Ecopower wants their customers to save energy because then more people can benefit from the same production capacity. Ecopower is profitable thanks to the production installations. Supplying activities run break-even and are only a service to the members. There’s no need to make profit on that, they say.

In October 2012 Ecopower decided to send members with an annual consumption of more than 6.000 kWh a letter saying that their consumption was outrageous. For most members it was some kind of a wake-up call. The letter was accompanied by a leaflet that contained tips and tricks on how to reduce your consumption. Circulating the leaflet can be seen as a marker for energy savings in REScoop Plus and is linked to 1.329 customers.

Over 5.000 members also joined EnergieID, an online platform where people can monitor their private energy consumption. The moment that these people registered and started following up on their energy consumption can also be seen as a marker for energy savings. In the database of REScoop Plus 1.824 customers are registered as active users of EnergieID.

Ecopower also collected continuous (yearly) consumption data of 33.596 electricity meters, starting from the 1st of January 2011. About 14.769 members have photovoltaic panels on their roofs. For 11.418 of them – that is about 77% - Ecopower managed to collect the capacity of their installation and the installation date. Based on those data the cooperative recalculated the “amount of electricity that was produced by their solar pv installations. In Flanders connections with solar PV have reversible meters, so you need to know the production in order to have a view on their total electricity demand.

TUC – who is working on the statistical analysis - asked Ecopower to provide some more information on the provided data.