Saint-Joachim In Brière, France Signs On To Multi-Use Cemeteries

people walking in cemetery surrounded by walls
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A 2022 photograph of the public cemetery in Saint-Joachim in Brière France.

Public power utilities are not a new idea, but the one described in this article is a little different.

It started as a discussion about reducing flooding in the community cemetery, which is brought on by rain in the winter months. A roof was suggested. It was at this point that the community of Saint-Joachim in Brière, France began thinking about building a roof over the cemetery, and installing solar panels on it.

If they did so, how could they distribute the benefits coming from generating the power? Typically, utility pricing structures are reward based: the more you consume, the lower the rate charged for the power you use.

Much discussion ensued. The whole town got involved. In the end, it was decided that the benefit, projected to be €150 to €200 per year, would be shared equally among the people and businesses that join up on to the project. As well, residents agreed on a one time €5 fee to join up. And the installation would be funded through a publicly supported tax increase.

What does this have to do with homelessness and housing?

People with very low incomes have limited resources to pay for anything extra that comes up. The payment they receive from being part of the solar power installation will add to their housing stability. A payment of €150 will be a bigger budget boost for people earning €10,000 compared with those with higher incomes. The low entry fee of €5 makes it easier for people with lower incomes to join.

Not everyone has a cemetery that floods in the winter, but this story from Saint-Joachim could be inspiring for people who are considering community power installations at housing developments1.

It is also worth noting that residents in Saint-Joachim were directly involved in the decision making. The details about how the community debated and decided what would be done should also be of particular interest.

Read more at ‘A beautiful idea’: This French town is making its cemetery a source of solar energy



  1. For an example in the US, try: A Rhode Island Public Housing Collective Becomes An Electricity Farm