GOIENER TALDEA – Empowering citizens through energy
GOIENER, S. COOP
Basque Country and Navarra, Spain
GOIENER TALDEA is a citizens’ cooperative generating and promoting the use of renewable energy in Basque Country and Navarra, Spain, to help people whose energy needs are not being met and who are excluded by the big energy corporations. The cooperative – set up in 2012 – is now a successful non-profit energy supplier with a turnover of €8.9 million.
The initial motivations behind the cooperative were the lack of democratic models in the energy corporations, their scant or total lack of consideration for the environment, and their view of renewables as no more than a means to make a profit. So, from its inception, the cooperative’s focus has been on direct communication with people to tell them about the cooperative’s purpose, including talks in cultural centres and associations, green movements and consumer groups, and forging alliances with already-established social movements. Also, in the governance model of the cooperative, volunteers make up half of those in the decision-making bodies. Currently about 65% of the people who join do so on the direct recommendation of another member.
And because GOIENER has been citizen-focused right from the start, it is often approached by residents’ groups, associations, small municipalities, businesses and shops, with the result that today, 8% of GOIENER’s members are organisations accounting for 50% of the cooperative’s annual turnover.
In total, GOIENER now has more than 10,000 members and more than 70 municipalities have signed up to the cooperative – mainly those that share the values of local, respectful and long-term development. The group has also set up NAFARKOOP, a cooperative whose purpose is to pass on donated funds for the development, promotion and acquisition of further renewable energy generation projects. These funds are being used to buy a hydroelectric plant, and in the spirit of international cooperation, are also providing financial support for photovoltaic projects in France through I-Ener cooperative.
“The participatory, solution-oriented approach of this initiative goes beyond lobbying for renewable energy to tackling environmental conservation, food security, livelihoods and redistribution of economic resources and benefits.”
– Agnes Midi Keita