Bulgaria: Plovdiv area
Recent events in Bulgaria demonstrated that a large part of the population is facing difficulties when paying their energy bills. Also statistics show that the problem with energy poverty is severe in Bulgaria: if the UK definition of energy poverty is applied in Bulgaria, then more than 75% of Bulgarian households should be regarded as energy poor.
Each year in Plovdiv area more than 9 000 households apply for social funding to be able to afford their energy bills during winter. More than 20% of them are rejected, while many households cannot apply for funding because of administrative criteria. There are two vocational schools in Plovdiv that specialize in energy systems, use, appliances, etc. which can use our solutions. The students lack hands-on practical work to complement the theoretical school curriculum. Social workers also need expertise and knowledge about energy poverty, how to recognize it and how to act when confronted with such situations.
Croatia: Sisak-Moslavina County
Sisak-Moslavina County (SMC) covers 6 cities, 13 municipalities and 179.087 people. Key development issues in the area are unequal population distribution and unequal development rate between different parts of the County. In the SMC there is also a high unemployment rate of 27.4% with continuous growth. The average personal income in county in 2011 was 5041 HRK (approx. 670 EUR) with above 10% income being spent on energy costs. Given all the data, it is evident that there is high risk to energy poverty.
This action could greatly benefit the chosen area as a way to increase awareness and to promote low cost energy saving measures. The City of Sisak, as capital of the County, has been a national pioneer in energy management initiatives and has implemented substantial actions since 2005 building on many partnerships, national and international. The citizens are informed on the importance of the energy efficiency and energy savings and are thus likely to respond well to the action.
Macedonia: Skopje area
There are no official statistics on energy poverty in Macedonia, so it is hard to estimate the scope of the problem. However, 20.000 households (4%) have used the governmental subsidy to reduce energy poverty, which gives an indication that the problem is not marginal.
The electricity usage in the target area is high due to inefficient and old domestic appliances and insufficient knowledge about efficient use of energy. The target group includes households with low incomes which are unable to pay the energy bills. The problem can be solved with a dissemination of knowledge about efficient use of energy and proper use of appliances. Some support could be gained from the usage of energy meters in these households.
Slovenia: Zasavje and Pomurje regions
Regions Zasavje and Pomurje were chosen because they are the least developed regions in Slovenia with the most acute social and economic problems. They have the highest rates of unemployment (Pomurje 19,3 %, Zasavje 16,5 % in comparison to national average of 13,6 %) and the lowest average wages in Slovenia. Zasavje region is facing another problem: it used to be a mining region, but as the mining is being phased out employment opportunities are lacking.
There is a technical high school is located in Trbovlje, where students are trained in the field of energy. Students lack possibility for practical work, hence implementing energy audits in households will be a welcome addition to their curriculum. The action will also help the organizations that help socially disadvantaged people. In Pomurje, the local energy agency LEA Pomurje will act as the contact point to the region, where with their experience and connections they will form a network of local actors for abating energy poverty. In such a way the support to energy-poor households can be provided in regions of Slovenia which are at the biggest risk of energy poverty.