The closing event of the STEP project was held on Wednesday 18 May 2022. After three years, over 16,000 consumers advised and over 1,000 frontline workers trained in energy poverty, the first in-person STEP event in over two years celebrated these achievements, and looked to the future.
The first panel discussion featured project partners from five STEP countries, with discussions ranging from experiences on the ground to the importance of inclusive energy renovation schemes in fostering a green transition. William Baker of UK STEP partner Citizens Advice commented that “having a national definition of energy poverty is crucial to monitoring the impact of national policies”, while all partners agreed that energy poverty is a multidimensional issue, cutting across the issues of energy, housing, health, social issues, and more.
After a dedicated intervention from Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson on the STEP project and its relevance in the context of the REPOWER EU package, journalist Dave Keating moderated a high level debate on the ongoing energy crisis. This debate highlighted the importance of ensuring that all consumers, particularly the most vulnerable, maintain access to affordable energy in the face of spiraling prices. Tomáš Koňařík, an elected councilllor in Hostivice, Czech Republic, emphasised the crucial role local municipalities can play in an inclusive energy transition, when provided with the right support at national level.
BEUC’s Monika De Volder closed out the event by reflecting on the successes of the project, emphasising what was learned in the project: consumer organisations can play a meaningful role in tackling energy poverty and improving energy efficiency – it was estimated that 38.4 Gwh of primary energy savings were triggered by training front line workers and advising consumers. With interest from the European Commission in adapting and sharing STEP’s online training modules across Europe, this figure looked only set to grow.