REScoop Action Guide

EMES network and Centre for Social Economy, University of Liege

Author +
Julie Rijpens, Sebastià Riutort and Benjamin Huybrechts

Year: 2014

REScoops rely on groups of citizens who join together and cooperate at a local level in the field of renewable energy. Relying on bottom-up and collective dynamics, REScoops face the challenge of engaging citizens and multiple stakeholders in the organizational creation and development processes. This REScoop Action Guide has been developed to facilitate the development of REScoops and more particularly to implement and maintain concrete involvement of citizens and multiple stakeholders in these processes.

What is a REScoop and where are the citizens in REScoops?
The word “REScoop” results from the contraction of “Renewable Energy Sources” (RES) and “cooperative” (coop). REScoops are groups of citizens, cooperatives or community-based organizations that cooperate and develop activities in the field of renewable energy sources, i.e. sources of energy that can be naturally replenished on a human time scale (solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal). REScoops are involved in the energy transition movement towards renewable energy and develop the following activities: the production, supply and/or distribution of renewable energy, as well as the provision of other support services to members (for instance to help them reduce their energy consumption) and to other organizations.

REScoops are cooperatives in the sense of the ICA (International Cooperative Alliance) definition, i.e. “autonomous associations of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise”. Not only cooperatives in the limited legal definition of the word, but rather all the groups of citizens inspired by the cooperative principles, are in the scope of REScoops.

REScoops tend to implement bottom-up and collective dynamics based on the active participation of citizens and the involvement of multiple stakeholders (local authorities, local economic players, other cooperatives, etc.). Some citizens become members of the cooperatives, i.e. owners and users of the cooperative; in that sense, citizens engage in the cooperative through the traditional governance mechanisms of the cooperative model. But citizens can wear different hats in REScoops: citizens can for example become directors of the board, volunteers or employees of the cooperative, being engaged in the organizational structure. They can also finance the cooperative, through their investment – they are then shareholders or investors – or through their consumption – they are then consumers. Citizens can also own production installations, individually or collectively; they then become producers. They can also remain as external stakeholders, such as residents living close to energy production installations, workers in the energy field (engineers, etc.), owners of the production sites/lands or roofs, people aware of social enterprises and/or environmental challenges, etc. These different hats do not imply the same level of involvement and the actions to take to engage these different types of audiences must then be adapted.

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Table of Contents:

1. Introduction
     • What is a REScoop and where are the citizens in REScoops?
     • What is the REScoop Action Guide for and what it is not for?
     • How to use the REScoop Action Guide?
2. How to get started right now?
    1.  “Who are we and what do we want to do together?”
    2. Talk to people, form a core group of people and define the project together
    3. Organize yourselves
    4. Explore the possibilities for the project and ask for help
    5. Launch your project and learn by doing
    6. Raise enthusiasm around your project
    7. Stick to some principles
3. How and Where to engage citizens in REScoops?
     • Dimension 1 – GOVERNING AND MANAGING THE REScoop
     • Dimension 2 – FINANCING THE REScoop
     • Dimension 3 – PRODUCING TOGETHER
     • Dimension 4 – CONSUMING TOGETHER
4. Contact and references