Pamplona heading towards energy self-sufficiency

By Miriam Eisermann on 29 January 2016

The City Council of Pamplona, committed to the Covenant of Mayors for several years already, believes that people and communities should have the right to control their energy future. Therefore, the Council is planning a range of ambitious measures in 2016 to mitigate energy poverty and foster self-production of renewable energy.

The most transformative potential certainly lies in the idea of creating a municipal energy utility company by the end of this year. Initially providing electricity to the local authority, the utility should, in the medium-term, sell electricity directly to citizens and companies. A feasibility study is currently under way. If the project gets through this initial stage, the city authorities will launch the process of setting up the municipally-owned company.

The local utility company’s missions reflect Pamplona’s desire to strengthen energy democracy. They include:

  • Managing and extending the current photovoltaic system, using the resources available to the City Council
  • Facilitating the production of green energy by citizens and other local actors (energy assistance)
  • Fostering networking between new producers, e.g. by encouraging the creation of a cooperative of small producers under the city’s auspices
  • Reinvesting a part of the profits into programmes addressing energy poverty.

In addition to this large-scale project, Pamplona’s 2016 working plan on energy also includes:

  • Reforming municipal regulations to allow energy self-production.
  • Promoting energy efficiency at the municipal and the citizen level (in coordination with the Department of Liveable City and Housing - Ciudad Habitable y Vivienda)
  • Modernising old small private district heating facilities to use biomass and improve energy efficiency, thus reducing energy bills.

The City of Pamplona has been an active member of Energy Cities since 1999.
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Encouraging community energy is not new in Spain: Som Energia, today the fastest growing cooperative in Europe, was created in the Catalan city of Girona five years ago. Since then, it has grown to nearly 24,000 members, of which around 650 are from Navarre. They have concluded 31,000 contracts throughout Spain.

With these new forms of energy ownership, Spain is following the lead of countries like the Netherlands or Germany where new players have already been investing in the energy market for decades already. In Germany, the energy transition champion, almost 1,000 energy cooperatives are producing and selling electricity.
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