What role could energy communities play in coal regions in transition? Energy communities offer opportunities for shaping regional energy transitions. BE:ST examines and identifies the available regional economic, social and political-cultural potential with quantitative-empirical analyses and by means of civic activation with a Citizens' Council. A professionally moderated randomly selected "mini public" will explore economic and social opportunities and risks of community energy in the coal districts. Activation and citizen-oriented optimisation of cooperative models will be supported by enabling regional political asset and capital strategies. The result will be various products, tools, and handouts, e.g. exemplary participation-oriented strategy recommendations and procedures for the self-efficacy of energy communities as well as an open access database with a citizen science interface.