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Energy Community: Contracting Parties should better address energy poverty issues

The  Energy Community Secretariat published a study on addressing energy poverty in the Energy Community Contracting Parties, which include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine.

The study estimates the number of energy-poor households, analyses the legal frameworks for the protection of vulnerable and energy-poor consumers and investigates the main drivers and causes of energy poverty in the Contracting Parties.

Efforts to address energy poverty are part of the Energy Community Just Transition Initiative to ensure that the move away from fossil fuels in the Contracting Parties is socially just, in the interest of women, workers and entire communities.

The study found that while all Contracting Parties have definitions of vulnerable customers, that definition is closely related to the social (income) and health status. Other aspects and drivers of energy poverty, such as the energy efficiency of homes, gender and energy needs, are not considered. This means that not all energy-poor households are getting the support they need.

The analysis revealed that most Contracting Parties implement only income supporting measures to protect vulnerable consumers. Such measures reduce the burden of energy poverty only temporarily without removing its main causes. Energy efficiency measures are deemed to be the most effective instruments to combat energy poverty as they result in improved living conditions as well as reduced energy demand and thus expenditure.

Therefore, recommended measures include support for the energy retrofit of buildings; replacement of household appliances; heating system improvements; renewable energy sources support and so on.

The study was able to accurately estimate the number of energy-poor households only in four Contracting Parties: Montenegro: 8-15 per cent; Serbia: 7-22 per cent; Ukraine: 13-18 per cent; and partially Georgia: up to 24.6 per cent. For the following three Contracting Parties, the study could provide only approximations: up to 37 per cent of households are energy poor in Albania; up to 40 per cent in Kosovo; and up to 33 per cent in North Macedonia.  For these three Contracting Parties, as well as for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Moldova, the study recommends that statistical policies are improved in order to allow for data collection and proposes a set of statistical indicators to be used to measure the extent of energy poverty. 

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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