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The Energy Poverty Advisory Hub Policy Conference, jointly organised by the European Parliament and DG Energy, themed, ‘Empowering Local Actors in Bridging Policy and Practice in Tackling Energy Poverty Closer to EU Citizens’, held in Brussels, Belgium, on 10th April 2024. The focus of this event was to underscore the significance of a multi-governance approach in addressing energy poverty in the EU, aiming to evaluate the existing policies and actions related to this issue, increase awareness and advocacy for immediate effective measures.

This event played a pivotal role in bringing together top-tier experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from across Europe and served as a platform for dialogue, idea exchange, and the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to combat energy poverty.

South East Energy Agency’s EU Project Manager and Ireland Country Representative, Michael Doran, presented the results of comprehensive dialogues conducted ahead of the event. On 20th March 2024, the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub (EPAH) National Stakeholders Conference and Roundtable Meeting held, where valuable contributions were made by key stakeholders on actions, tools, or support that are crucial at the local level to effectively address energy poverty. Primary barriers that hinder efforts to address energy poverty in local communities and regions, were also identified. These findings were presented by Michael Doran to the Director General of Energy, European Commission, Ditte Juul-Jorgensen, alongside other project partners from France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Portugal.

Speaking on the topic, ‘Local Governments in the Forefront: Policy Needs and Recommendations from European City Representatives’, Mr. Doran highlighted visionary ways to revolutionise the way energy poverty can be combatted at the local level. He proposed Energy Performance Contracts (EPC) for poor households, with the aim of fostering collaborations between government agencies, energy service companies, Non-Governmental Organisations, and financial institutions to establish effective EPC programmes for poor households.

Furthermore, he suggested a launch of a comprehensive retrofit program with focus to boost faster and smarter (energy) renovation including provision of a financial advisor for communities to help them apply for the retrofit grant, while equally stressing the need for the establishment of community energy hubs as centralised points of information, trainings for local contractors/craftsmen, support, and engagement for local residents. Finally, he proposed working together with Local Authorities to ensure the integration and coordination of energy poverty policies across different sectors, including housing, energy, health, and social welfare.​

The key discussions at the conference focused on the need for stronger collaboration and vertical coordination, the multidimensional challenges of energy poverty, the need for additional funding, the effect of long-lasting political instability in certain countries, the need for more guidance on indicator use and local data collection, and the need for deep energy renovations.

 At the end of the event, valuable lessons were shared and learnt which would aid in putting forth applicable policy recommendations.

You can view some lessons learnt from the policy conference here: https://bit.ly/4cWsV1D