The Centrales Villageoises (“Village Centers”, in English) are local companies aiming at developing renewable and sustainable energies in rural and mountain territories in France by involving citizens, local communities and businesses.
Context and origin of Centrales Villageoises
The pilot project was first carried out in the Regional Natural Park of the Rhône-Alpes Region. The pilot project implemented a model that can easily be reproduced in rural and mountain territories.
How does it work?
Citizens, local businesses and local authorities participate in the creation of a local company, such as a SAS (French Simplified Joint Stock Company) and share the capital shares. Each Centrales Villageoises company invests in renewable energy production equipment, pays taxes and charges and collects revenues from the sale of electricity to EDF, the national electricity provider. Projects are financed by own funds (25% – 30%) and bank loans (around 70-75%).
Revenues from the sale of electricity allow the company to pay expenses (maintenance, rent, rent, etc.) and feed the profits, which can either be set aside or distributed as dividends to shareholders.
The implementation of the project in mountain areas
The territory of Autrans-Méaudre, in Vercors, is located at an average altitude of 1000 meters surrounded by cliffs culminating up to 2350m. It encompasses rural, touristic municipalities, with more than 11.100 inhabitants. Local elected representatives of the Vercors massifs decided to develop and implement local energy projects through the Centrales Villageoises. The “Centrales solaires Villageoises 4 Montagnes” (4 Mountains) were implemented in October 2016. Nearly 600m² of photovoltaic panels installed allowed to produce and consume local electricity. This represents the equivalent of 500 fridges to be supplied with local energy throughout the year.
The advantages for inhabitants of a local energy
The project, co-owned and co-designed by locals, allows to produce a green energy that respects nature, relies on local resources and preserves the quality of the region’s landscapes and heritage, while generating local economic benefits.
For more information, visit the Centrales Villageoises website
Video of the Centrales Villageoises 4 Montagnes at Autrans-Méaudre en Vercors here11 September 2017