public-private joint energy welfare project
Seoul Metropolitan Government

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Approximately 10.3% of Seoul’s population (360,000 households) is classified as “energy poor,” a term referring to individuals who spend at least 10% of their income on heating and cooling. In the lowest income quantile, 69.3% are energy poor. Being energy poor and less likely to receive energy benefits is the biggest problem facing lower income households. Energy poor households are particularly vulnerable to adverse weather conditions (e.g. heat/cold waves) caused by climate change because of their lack of access to basic heating or cooling facilities. An energy usage survey conducted in Seoul in 2016, targeting 4,671 low-income households that were national basic livelihood security recipients, revealed that one out of 10 of the households (9.5%) experienced significant hardship from cold and hot weather because of a lack of proper heating and cooling. Notably, 38.5% of survey participants lived in basement or semi-basement housing that had little natural light or ventilation. Considering that climate change will intensify heat and cold waves, a support system is essential for low-income households.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
In order to reduce the number of energy-poor individuals (in low-income groups) who are extremely affected by adverse weather and expand a culture of energy sharing/donation, the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) launched a “public-private joint energy welfare project” in cooperation with corporations, civic groups and city residents. The project provides various types of direct and indirect support for the energy welfare of low-income citizens based on the characteristics of their local communities, the companies volunteering resources, and the recipients themselves. While providing low-income individuals substantive energy benefits through direct and indirect support, the project is part of a broad response to climate change. It expands a culture of energy conservation, reduces greenhouse gas emissions through more effective appliances, and expands the use of clean energy.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The energy welfare project involved a range of measures, starting with the systematic diagnoses of the homes and energy facilities of low-income residents. By carrying out eco-friendly energy welfare projects (e.g. installation of solar energy generators), we can expect a permanent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and an increased usage of clean energy. By hiring “energy planners” and “energy social workers” from among low-income groups, socially vulnerable citizens are able to actively participate in SMG’s public-private cooperative energy welfare projects. This, in turn, results in improved quality of life for these individuals. Broader solutions have been the pursuit of social equity, energy conservation, and an expanded culture of energy sharing through consistent and direct/indirect energy welfare. The goal of the project is to (1) carry out the most effective energy welfare policies that can minimize the damages suffered by low-income individuals due to climate change, and (2) provide support to low-income individuals through the cooperative efforts of the SMG and recommended groups in the private sector (civic groups, companies, residents). In this way, direct energy benefits are offered to the project’s low-income target groups, which in turn contribute to preventing the energy problems faced by low-income individuals (who are particularly vulnerable to climate change) and improving their level of social equity.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
A new way in which this policy addressed the problem was with the direct involvement of individuals in low-income target groups in the project. By finding jobs in related areas or establishing/participating in social cooperatives or non-profit private organizations, based on their personal experiences with climate change problems, low-income individuals have contributed significantly to the development of energy welfare projects that address the needs of low-income groups.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The primary administrator of the policy is the Seoul Metropolitan Government, while actual administration was carried out by the SMG in cooperation with companies, civic groups and residents. House repair funds were given to 2,300 households, lighting was changed to LED lights in 2,400 cases, support was provided for the installation of 1,600 mini solar panels, and funding was provided for 10,000 sets of winter-use long underwear, 10,000 sets of summer underwear, and 200 insulation tents.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The energy welfare project was implemented by providing various types of direct and indirect support for low-income households. The characteristics of local societies, participating companies and recipients were taken into consideration. The total budget size was approximately KRW 5.5 billion (January 2015 ~ December 2016) and was used in the following ways: approximately KRW 600 million was used for beneficial energy-sharing corporate activities and the Citizen Energy Welfare Fund, approximately KRW 2.2 billion for the Repairs of Hope project (KRW 1.2 billion in 2015, KRW 1 billion in 2016), and approximately KRW 2.7 billion for cultivating/selecting energy planners and energy welfare workers (KRW 15.75 million in 2015, KRW 11.55 million in 2016). The budget was secured through agreements between the SMG and private sector entities (participation in beneficial energy-sharing corporate activities, Citizen Energy Welfare Fund, monetary donations). The target base of this project—low-income individuals—contributed by directly participating. A total of 180 energy planners and energy social workers have been trained (110 in 2015, 70 in 2016): these individuals are currently conducting inspections of energy usage and the living environments of approximately 1,300 low-income households and local children’s welfare centers that are in dire need of energy welfare. Energy-vulnerable individuals continue to contribute in SMG’s energy welfare projects in other ways too, providing energy conservation consulting services and various forms of housing repairs/construction.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Government employees affiliated with the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the Citizen Energy Welfare Fund, the Seoul Council on Social Welfare, and the Beneficial Corporate Group for Energy Sharing (consisting of 27 companies and organizations, including manufacturers of heating/cooling devices, are currently listed) participated in project policy planning and execution. Seoul-based energy welfare planners and energy welfare employees are also key project participants.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
①A housing repair fee was provided to 1,295 households in 2015 through Repairs of Hope project. A total of 1,050 households received support in 2016 ②Approximately 2,400 lights in outdoor markets, local children’s welfare centers and low-income households were changed to LED lights. ③Direct repairs were made to approximately 100 low-income households (e.g. windshield, insulation, Cool Roof). ④Approximately 1,600 mini solar panels were provided to residents of rented apartments and low-income households in run-down districts. ⑤Funding was provided for 10,000 sets of winter-use long underwear, 10,000 sets of summer underwear, 200 insulation tents. ⑥A status survey was conducted on the living environments and energy usage of approximately 1,300 low-income households and local children’s welfare centers that are in dire need of energy welfare. ⑦In 2015, 50 individuals gained jobs in energy-related areas. Also, five local cooperatives, three social cooperatives and four non-profit private organizations were founded. All of these organizations are consistently contributing to the energy welfare of low-income groups.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The largest obstacle encountered during the implementation process was assessing how to provide support for low-income residents in different districts that was both appropriate and satisfactory for their various needs. This obstacle was overcome by expanding the degree of direct participation by citizens in the relevant districts. In addition, cooperation with organizations that were familiar with each local situation and well-known to local residents (e.g. local civic groups, rehabilitation centers and social cooperatives) made it easier to assess outstanding issues such as housing repairs and understand the levels of energy welfare required.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Economic benefits (one of the major benefits of the policy) are obtained through the installation of solar panels for residents of rental apartments and other types of low-income households (approx. 1,600), as they can produce their own energy and save on energy consumption charges. Support for changing older lighting to LED lighting (approx. 2,400 lights) also directly contributes to savings and a reduction in energy consumption. By having individuals from vulnerable groups participate in energy welfare projects, it increases the income levels of their households. Jobs are also created in related areas—another indirect positive effect for low-income areas. In terms of social benefits, the profit gained from reducing energy costs and the self-production of energy through a “virtuous cycle of energy” is used to support low-income individuals exposed to the hazards of climate change. All of these advantages result in greater social equity in terms of energy.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
This policy enhances the integrity and perceived reliability of public administration through cooperation with private governance groups. The central organization for energy welfare in Seoul is the Energy Welfare Citizen Fund, which is operated in a transparent manner through the direct participation of citizens in collecting and use of donations made by companies and organizations. It is greatly contributing to enhancing the integrity and reliability of energy welfare in Seoul. Also, by conducting energy welfare projects with local grassroots NGO organizations (cooperatives, social cooperatives, non-profit private organizations), the SMG is providing support that responds more appropriately to the needs of low-income individuals per district/area.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
To improve the situation of vulnerable groups, individuals from these groups are trained as implementers of energy welfare projects. This is expected to lead to increased household income, the creation of jobs in relevant areas and higher levels of employment. By getting locals to work as energy planners and energy welfare workers, they gain more income while directly participating in activities to help energy-poor households in their area.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Seoul Metropolitan Government
Institution Type:   Local Government  
Contact Person:   Hyeongseok Ryu
Title:   PR  
Telephone/ Fax:   82-02-2133-3536
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   110, sejong-daero, Jung-gu
Postal Code:   04524
City:   Seoul

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