ManagEnergy Expert Mission #5: actors of the energy transition

The 5th ManagEnergy Expert Mission took place in Normandy on 21-23 November 2023. Etienne Viénot (AURA-EE) visited 7 Vents and discussed their strategy for stakeholders engagement, strategic communication, investments and energy communities.

ManagEnergy Expert Mission #5: actors of the energy transition

SCIC 7 vents is a collective interest cooperative supporting local authorities and the general public created in 1998 to support the energy transition. In just four years, they went from 10 to 30 employees.

7 Vents aims to be actors of the energy transition, and not only facilitators. This active engagement is currently implemented in different fields: advice to individuals, EU projects, energy communities, building refurbishment, etc.

Etienne Viénot, head of European Affairs at the regional energy agency of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (AURA-EE) spent 3 days in Coutances, Normandy, with 7 Vents to support the strategic development of these different activities.

Community projects for clean energy

7 Vents is well entrenched into the local community. They developed Watt ELCE, a community-based renewable energy company, aiming to invest collectively and locally in renewable energy production units. An initial 36 KWc PV facility is now in service, and the company is looking for new community projects to help it grow. The aim is to have 500 KWc installed over the next 5 years.

They also run the network of citizen, local and renewable energies in Normandy (ECLORE) to develop citizen energy communities. Noémie Zambeaux (AURA-EE) who runs the equivalent network for the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region (AURACLE) was invited online to contribute to the discussions, together with Etienne Jouin from the French Association of Centrales Villageoises (local citizen-owned energy communities).

The legal and project management methods of these organisations were compared allowed to identify complementarities. In the future the SCIC 7 vents will be able to offer both models depending on the intention of the project leader. They might also join the Association Centrales Villageoises, which would give them access a toolbox for project developers.

Strategic development and communication

One of the points raised during the ManagEnergy Expert Mission was the need for strategic communication and development of the company’s flagship services, such as:

  • Renovation of a school in Coutances: the SCIC 7 Vents bought an abandoned school and is completely renovating it so that it can be used as its premises in the summer of 2024. The investment is estimated at €1 million. The work is being carried out by local craftsmen, with SCIC employees taking part from time to time. This project is emblematic of the spirit of the SCIC, yet there is little communication about it.
  • 7 Vents is also a training centre, offering 75 training courses in partnership with a network of around fifteen partners. The trainers often come from other organisations, limiting the financial added value that could be used to finance the SCIC’s less profitable activities. The design of a training course run entirely by employees of Les 7 vents is in the pipeline for 2024 to better promote and market these courses.

As identified during the Mission, a more active external communications strategy will allow to develop the SCIC’s services and activities and attract new shareholders for the renovation of the school. Targeted communication actions were envisaged:  thematic videos, monthly communication via the website and social networks, site visits and events.

Expert Mission 5
7 Vents

ManagEnergy expert Etienne Viénot also supported the SCIC in identifying key stakeholders and better explaining the company’s missions on their website.

Social impact

The final day was used to reflect on the social impact of the SCIC’s strong growth over the last 4 years, and to take stock of all the feedback given during the Mission.

Samuel Hévin, a doctoral student at the University of Lyon 2, presented his research online, which focuses on social dialogue in alternative organisations.

This discussion helped to identify key areas to support the company’s sustainable growth: external and internal communication, balanced social dialogue. The organisation’s business plan, which is currently being updated, will enable to propose actions in these three areas.

I was impressed by the commitment of SCIC employees in the energy transition, and the various project led by company. The growth of the SCIC leads to some inevitable tension and internal reorganization, and external and internal communication need to be reinforced. The model of SCIC 7 Vents can be very inspiring for many organisations.

Etienne Vienot (AURA-EE, expert)

The moments spent with Etienne were rich in exchanges and learnings. ManagEnergy’s assistance allowed us to take a step aside and explore new horizons. We recommend this method!

Florian Guillote, co-director of SCIC 7 vents