To overcome the barriers to energy-related investments in the public sector, Upper Austria has implemented the regional «Gemeinde-Energie-Programm» (GEP). Designed to make best use of the strengths found in the region’s small municipalities, this programme supports them in preparing concrete projects.
Municipalities play a crucial role in furthering the regional energy transition. 180 municipalities in Upper Austria have adopted energy action plans with clear targets, many of which require investments. There is a range of funding and financing instruments available both on regional and national levels. However, an analysis carried-out in the context of the EU-funded project Publenef revealed that many municipalities require support for the detailed planning of their investments.
Upper Austria is characterised by mostly small municipalities. These often suffer from a lack of capacities, resources and replicability for such projects. At the same time, their small size results in certain strengths: committed individual staff members can have a big impact, decision making routes are short and there is «power» in the local communities (i.e. energy groups, school groups, fire-brigades, active farmers).
Launched in 2017 and managed by the OÖ Energiesparverband, the GEP programme strives to use these strengths to trigger energy-related projects. It is based on the principles of activation, motivation and provision of technical advice. The programme funds the technical and financial planning of energy efficiency and renewable energy investments, information activities supporting project implementation and the optimisation of installations.
Target groups are reached through a mix of activities tailored to their needs. The most important are personal visits to municipalities to discuss their specific measures on-site, the provision of advice for their investment projects and the organisation of information events & workshops. Efforts are made to specifically reach out to municipalities that are generally less proactive in implementing energyrelated projects. So far, nearly 100 municipalities were visited and 55 projects were triggered.
• Energy advice: 118 advice sessions, including 92 on-site visits to municipalities
• Projects triggered: 55 (25 fully implemented by November 2018)
• Investments triggered: 5.5 Million Euro.