Until now, Poland has not had a definition of energy poverty, but this is set to change. STEP member and Polish consumer organisation Federacja Konsumentow (FK) was invited in March 2021 to join a newly-created government task force aimed at defining and alleviating energy poverty. FK was successful in convincing the government that this issue should be tackled in advance of the country’s liberalisation of its energy markets. The taskforce will also include various government ministries, NGOs and energy regulators.
While the Covid-19 pandemic forced energy poverty workshops to go online, with STEP members creating a Moodle training, FK has successfully managed to engage the country’s biggest energy provider, Tauron, to use its Moodle training. The ultimate goal of the Moodle training in Poland is to build referral networks and train frontline workers who engage with energy poor consumers. Engagement with energy suppliers shows the willingness of not just consumer organisations but now also the private sector, and government, to embrace the concept of energy poverty and help to tackle it.
Meanwhile, new legislation on smart metering has seen a further victory for the most vulnerable energy consumers in Poland. Historically, consumers with payment difficulties have been forced to install prepayment meters, which had expensive tariffs, forcing vulnerable consumers to pay more for their energy. The creation of a remote on-off switch will allow consumers to avoid such costly prepayment schemes. FK’s involvement on this project also means the consumer will be the owner of their own metering data (ensuring greater personal data protection).
Kamil Pluskwa-Dąbrowski of FK commented that they were buoyed by the recent initiatives shown by government and industry to engage on energy poverty, and that there remained much work to do to protect consumers from energy poverty and to adopt further energy efficiency measures in Poland.