In Mouscron, the local authority joined with 20 residents and partners to establish COOPEM – Cooperative Energy of Mouscron – in May 2017. It was created out of a desire to reduce the area’s carbon emissions and progress the installation of more solar PV at accessible prices in the city.
Although the City of Mouscron established the co-operatives, citizens are in the lead. While it is a municipal initiative, citizens own the majority of COOPEM’s equity (55%), with 15% owned by the local authority and 30% by two private partners: Energiris (a citizens’ co-operative in Brussels) and Aralia (a third party investor in PV projects) which provide experience and expertise to the co-operative.
The co-operative was designed to help address the city’s particular challenge around financing the energy transition, making the most of local subsidies and finance opportunities. They offer a financing system to businesses for PV installations which is akin to “leasing” contracts used for cars, and harnessed the potential of the Belgian government’s Qualiwatt subsidy and the benefits of bulk purchasing to reduce the cost of installation for citizens more broadly.