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Brussels, 31 March 2009

Commission earmarks 15 million euro to promote sustainable energy investments in cities

The European Commission has adopted today the 2009 Work Programme of the Intelligent Energy-Europe (IEE) Programme aiming at co-financing non-technology projects to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transport. For the first time financial support will be provided for technical assistance helping cities to develop bankable projects or investment programmes in the field of urban sustainable energy. The IEE 2009 budget is more than 96 million euro of which 15 million is foreseen for developing the potential of municipalities and regions to accelerate local investments, notably in buildings and urban transport.

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs welcomed the initiative and said: "It is a real breakthrough that will help cities to contribute to the Community objectives of mitigating climate change while allowing for investments that will generate local jobs.”

The financial facility should be operational by the end of 2009 and it will be jointly operated by the European Investment Bank and the Commission. 15 million euro which are earmarked for local or regional authorities include those adhering to the Covenant of Mayors Initiative with the commitment to contribute to the objective of the EU sustainable energy policy, i.e. to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020. It will help those local authorities to obtain large scale loans from development banks such as the European Investment Bank.

Projects eligible under the facility include renovation of public and private buildings, street lighting, integration of renewable energy sources into the built environment, district heating/cooling networks based on combined heat and power (CHP) and decentralised CHP systems. Another important area supported under the facility is urban transport to support increased energy efficiency and integration of renewable energy sources and to facilitate the introduction of electric cars.

Having in mind the potential of current 476 Covenant of Mayors' signatory cities, the Facility aims to provide tangible support for implementation of their Sustainable energy action plans and thus mobilize the local sustainable development, creation of new jobs and climate change mitigation.

Background information

The Intelligent Energy – Europe (IEE) Programme is the Community’s non-technological programme in the field of energy focusing on the removal of market barriers, changing behaviour, creating a more favourable business environment for increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies markets, and making EU energy policy better understood and implemented in Europe's cities and regions.

Its objective is to support sustainable development and to contribute to the achievement of the general goals of environmental protection, security of supply and competitiveness

The Intelligent Energy - Europe Programme, with the total budget of 730 million euro for the period 2007-2013, is part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and contributes to achieving the objectives of EU energy policy and to implementing the Lisbon Agenda.

Specific actions to be supported in the framework of the IEE Programme are detailed in the annual IEE Work Programmes published each year.

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