In Continental Europe, the basic supply of energy to vulnerable households is primarily carried out as the function of state social services. Up to now, companies have therefore been less involved in direct support for households. Rising energy prices significantly raised the profile of energy poverty in the year 2012. A variety of models exist in Germany for effectively acting to reverse energy poverty. RWE already established and promoted the 'Cleverer Kiez' or Smart Neighbourhood project in 2009 in order to gain experience of options leading to solutions. The specific objective is to bring about a change in behaviour with regard to energy consumption in the affected households. We trained people who were currently unemployed as energy consultants. At the same time, this opened up a career perspective for them. Personal support on the ground was a key perspective for the success of the programme. The costs saved on energy and water in some 1,000 of the supported households totalled around than €60,000. In mid-2013, we will hold a national conference where we will exchange experiences with other organisations and programmes.
Programmes have also been launched to address fuel poverty through our companies in Central and Eastern Europe over recent years.
Our Hungarian subsidiary Mátra assists families affected by fuel poverty in the region. In 2012, almost 131 metric t of lignite were provided free of charge and 3,495 metric t of lignite were made available at half price to local government agencies for distribution to vulnerable families. The ELMŰ-ÉMÁSZ Group also combats fuel poverty. In 2012, 12,000 prepaid electricity meters were installed in order to provide the affected customers with improved control over their electricity costs.
In the Czech Republic, we are talking to our customers who are having problems with settling their energy bills. We offer them solutions tailored to the individual situation, e.g. payment plans or the adjustment of advanced payments. We also offer a discount for people who are incapacitated. Customers who hold a disability pass receive a discount of CZK20/MWh on their tariff. 5,000 customers are currently given this discount.