Local energy forums in Słupsk and Sztum

Mobilization of citizens around common energy goals is very important for the successful implementation of local energy-related initiatives, including the development, implementation and monitoring of a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP). Municipalities of Słupsk and Sztum (Pomeranian voivodeship) are well aware of this, therefore they decided to organise local energy forums and invite representatives of different groups of local stakeholders to a common discussion on their SEAPs.

Both cities are participating in the European project entitled 50000&1 SEAPs, in the framework of which they are developing Sustainable Energy Action Plans integrated with Energy Management Systems following ISO 50001. This approach will not only help them achieve SEAP's main objective, which is reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020, but will also bring additional benefits in terms of energy saving, energy costs reduction, optimization of different processes to make them more resources-efficient and increasing local energy security. Such ambitious targets cannot be achieved without an active participation of all key stakeholders and cooperation with citizens, so the cities decided on orgnisation of a series of dedicated meetings.

Local energy forum in Słupsk took place on Tuesday, 24th of November 2015, while the meeting in Sztum was organised a day later, on the 25th of November. In both cases the forums gathered a number of participants  representing different institutions, including different municipal departments, municipal companies (water utility, public transport company, etc.), energy utilities, housing cooperatives, local companies and local media. In Słupsk, there was also a delegation from Ukraine, whose members were very interested in "green" solutions implemented in the city.

During the meetings the participants learned about energy-reduction targets and pollution-reduction targets adopted by their local authorities, including the commitments resulting from joining the Covenant of Mayors - a mainstream European movement involving local and regional authorities, voluntarily committing to increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources on their territories. They also got acquainted with the 50000&1 SEAPs project, with tasks and benefits resulting from integration of their SEAP with the EnMS and with their city's previous activities supporting sustainable energy development. In Słupsk Mrs. Beata Maciejewska, Mayor's Plenipotentiary for Sustainable Development and Green Modernisation, presented recently-adopted Sustainable Energy Action Plan for the City of Słupsk. The document fixes city's long-term strategy towards sustainable energy development, as well as defines concrete actions, whose implementation will help in reaching strategy's targets. Planned actions include thermal retrofitting of public buildings, development and modernisation of cycling infrastructure, co-financing connecting new buildings (individual households) to the district heating network or natural gas network, construction of co-generation unit in Cofely Słupsk CHP plant, carrying out energy audits in selected buildings and implementation of green public procurement. Also participants of the local energy forum in Sztum had the possibility to get acquainted with their city's previous and planned actions in the field of sustainable energy, as well as with the results of the baseline inventory of energy consumption and CO2 emissions conducted both for municipal and private sector. The results of the inventory will serve as basis for the development of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan for the Municipality of Sztum.

In each case the presentations were followed by vivid discussions, which gave the participants an opportunity to express their opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of local energy policy, as well as external opportunities and threats influencing the SEAP. They could also submit their own propositions regarding the development of local energy situation. Participants of both meetings highlighted that it is especially important to solve the problem of low emissions from individual boiler houses and transport, which are degrading air quality in cities and are especially bothersome now, in the winter season. They remarked that it requires actions in various fields, including co-financing replacement of old and inefficient boilers with new, environmentally friendly heat sources and connecting new buildings to the  district heating network and natural gas network. On the other hand, it is necessary to carry out long-term and complex educational campaigns aiming at increasing energy awareness of different target groups and popularizing being environmentally friendly. The participants also discussed how to approach the most "difficult" target groups and how the new "Anti-smog law" will influence the situation on the local level. They also informed the city about their current/planned energy-related actions and projects.

Soon local energy forums will be organised in remaining municipalities participating in the 50000&1 SEAPs project, while Słupsk and Sztum are planning next meetings with their local stakeholders.