Description of the active role towards local sustainable energy in Europe

Martine Echevin dedicated her entire professional career to local authorities and sustainable energy. She was able to build and develop both awareness and actions thanks to her outstanding experience and with a main objective, the assistance to local authorities. With her capacity to bring together stakeholders, listening to their needs and constraints, she ensured that most people feel involved in the energy transition. Always available to transfer her knowledge, she inspired and trained a lot of people, some of them with high duty today in the field of energy transition.

After a master’s degree in physics, Martine pursued her studies and obtained a third-cycle doctorate in geophysics option glaciology and wrote a thesis, under the direction of the glaciologist, Claude Lorius. After having worked in consultant agencies and as energy engineer in a social housing, she became project manager in the town of Meylan (15 000 inhabitants), from 1982 to 1994 and was, with the Mayor, at the initiative of the creation of the 1st municipality energy department in the Rhône-Alpes region.

In 1984, she also graduated in energy management from the IEPE (Institute of Economics and Energy Policy) of Grenoble and in 1992 as territorial engineer. In 1994, it became obvious that she had to put her competencies at the service of other local authorities. An agreement was found between the town of Meylan and the regional energy agency, Rhônalpénergie whose president was, at that time, Roger Léron and she became a project manager in the regional agency, specialized in energy audits in the municipalities of Rhône-Alpes and beyond, as she was also involved in European projects (energy audits in mountain areas, training of energy managers…).

In parallel, from 1982 to 1998, she maintained an active participation in the AITF network (French Network of territorial engineers). She was part of the energy group and ensured its leadership during 4 years. This network with its 50 members has developed partnerships with energy providers such as EDF (former French electricity provider), GDF (former French gas provider) but also with Amorce (French network on waste, water, energy transition issues), Ademe (French Environment & Energy Management Agency).

Thanks to these partnerships, management tools for local authorities were developed such as the energy management tool called Energie-Territoria. Convinced that it was necessary to mobilize local stakeholders and thus have also multipliers at the local level to go further and deal with all environmental issues, she decided to answer to a European call for the creation of a local energy agency.

This initiative was a success and she became in 1998 director of the local energy agency of the Grenoble metropolis till 2009 when she retired. Of course, retirement could not mean to give up actions in the energy field. So she created her own business, Ecotine, and became a Cit’ergie (French European Energy Award, eea®) adviser. Always with the aim to transfer her knowledge to others, Martine has contributed to the online energy encyclopedia initiated by Jean-Marie Martin from the IEPE.

Creativity

At the beginning of her career, convinced that it was essential to give means and tools to local authorities to support them in their sustainable energy actions, she decided with François Gillet, Mayor of Meylan, to create the first energy department in a town of the Rhône-Alpes region. It was new, not so obvious at that time, challenging, but thanks to her determination, and her good collaboration with the mayor, she was able to run this department and develop many actions.

Thus, Meylan became an exemplary town followed by others. To go further and developed the sustainable energy awareness, she joined in 1994, Rhônalpénergie, the regional energy agency where she worked on energy audits. Convinced that it was necessary to mobilize local stakeholders and thus to have also multipliers at local level, to boost awareness and deal with all environmental issues, she decided to answer to a European call for the creation of a local energy agency. This initiative was a success and she became, in 1998, director of this agency.

Martine Echevin has always been involved in new challenging actions and the management of a local energy agency was a real challenge. Very soon, appears the delicate task to work with several actors on the same field and on the same territory but for her, dialogue was central and thanks to her determination, she managed to overcome these barriers, work together with all actors to the benefit of the territory. Today she is still member of this agency’s board.

Impact

Martine always believed in the necessity of developing energy resource centers and in exchanges between stakeholders to make sure that territories are well covered and have at their disposal the necessary tools, information to implement their actions. The creation of the local energy agency was a real opportunity to multiply actions in the energy field. In 1998, 3 persons worked in the agency. The local energy and climate agency counts today 25 employees.

Martine was also involved in the creation, in 2004, of the French network of local energy agencies, FLAME. Today it is 38 structures and more than 400 employees. Beyond France, the local agency became tutoring agency of the local energy agencies of Oeiras in Portugal and Brasov in Romania. Martine was deeply involved and happy to give advice and support to these agencies. When she became an eea®adviser, it was again to go further in the work with local authorities. It was not anymore only carrying actions but making sure they have a real impact, are valuable and certified, and that time, at national level.

Always willing to take part in innovative actions, she participated in the test phase of the “eea” certification within the REVE-JURA-LEMAN Interreg programme lead by Energy Cities. She managed the audit of the Besançon town, to whom the 1st eea® Gold was attributed, and followed, among others, the procedure for the Grenoble metropolis certified in 2007. The Ademe also contracted Martine to test the new module “assessment assistance” of the Cit’ergie label.

Strategic vision

Her strategic vision has made the development of energy multipliers and actions possible, not only on her territory but beyond with her actions at local, regional, national and European level. After her work in a municipal energy department, her objective was to transfer her knowledge. She joined Rhônalpénergie to put her expertise at the disposal of other local authorities.

When the energy audits were well implemented in the region, she took the opportunity of a European call to create a local energy agency and come back to her town with the aim of being a multiplier at local level and of mobilizing local stakeholders. She became in 1998 director of the energy agency of the Grenoble metropolis and was deeply involved in the launch of the 1st French territorial SEAP. With Grenoble Metropolis, the town of Dunkirk and Energy Cities, she contributed to the set-up of the Assises européennes de la transition énergétique, organized alternately in Dunkirk, Grenoble, Bordeaux and Geneva.

Martine Echevin was deeply involved from the beginning and thanks to her, this event has also been organized in Grenoble (2002 “Energy: decentralized production and sustainable development of territories…what is the role of the local authority”; 2005 “The territorial authority, a wise and sustainable energy consumption”; 2007, “Energy, a society issue”; 2009, “Energy, climate…a real chance for our territories”; 2011 “Town planning and mobility”; 2013 “Territories at the heart of the energy transition”). These conferences have been reinforcing exchange around sustainable energy and gathered each year thousands of participants.

Leadership

Martine Echevin maintained an active participation in the French network of territorial engineers and she ensured the leadership of the energy group during 4 years. Especially within this network, Martine inspired many people to deepen their work with local authorities and to support them in the energy transition. Always available, she inspired and trained a lot of people, some of them with high duty today in the field of energy transition. She was also speaker in numerous training sessions for executive managers of public authorities in France and in Europe. She trained them on the energy management in towns (method, organization, tools…) and the implementation of SEAPs. She also participated in the development of programmes for the training of the agents of CNFPT (National centre for the public territorial profession) and ENACT (National application school for territorial executive managers).

What has always been essential to her was to transfer her know-how and she was pleased to be commissioned by the Ademe to ensure the tutoring of Cit’ergie advisers under accreditation process and help them to implement the Cit’ergie tools and method. Through her involvement in the set-up of the Assises européennes de la transition énergétique, her objective was to boost cooperation between all actors and to make sure they all can benefit from exchanges and best practices. Transfer of knowledge and cooperation have always been crucial for Martine. All along her life, she motivated people to support local authorities. Passionate and always benevolent, she was and still is able to build trustful relationships.