German politicians for energy democracy across party lines
Today, a representative of each of Germany’s main political parties met in Berlin to reiterate their support not only for the energy transition, but for community ownership. But the battle is not over, as the German capital’s fight to buy back its grid shows.
Parliamentary elections are coming up at the end of the month, and the TV debate between the two leading candidates was broadcast on Sunday evening to an audience of 17 million viewers (result: yawn). But many were surprised at how small a role the Energiewende played in the debate. Indeed, energy was not much of a topic, with perhaps the most interesting statement being the Social-Democrat challenger to Merkel reiterating his party’s support for coal.
Meanwhile, the fight for what’s important – and what too often gets overlooked – continues. Today, NGOs and German politicians from each party in parliament came together to underscore the importance not only of renewables, but of community ownership. Social Democrat Matthias Miersch explained, “The Energiewende is a good opportunity to turn energy supply on its head – towards distributed supply and a renaissance of cooperatives.”
Conservative politicians Ingbert Liebing and Josef Göppel also expressed their support. “In northern Frisia, we have more than 90% community wind farms, and that increases local acceptance,” Liebling stated. His southern German colleague Göppel said, “We now have more than 650 energy coops nationwide, and power production has truly become a popular sport in the south.”
Hans-Josef Fell of the Greens – a co-author of the country’s Renewable Energy Act of 2000 – said, “People have realized what power firms have not – our energy supply has to be 100% renewable if we are to do something about climate change and rising resource prices.” And Eva Bulling-Schröter of the Left Party said, “Energy democracy is not just about having your own solar roof. Municipal utilities and communities can also work on green power, efficiency and demand management.”
But the battle is not won yet. Berlin’s famous bid to buy back its grid has suffered a setback; instead of a plebiscite taking place on the day of parliamentary elections, opponents of the bid have postponed the vote to a later date – in the hope that not enough people will come to the second vote for a quorum to be reached.
In related news, Greenpeace published a report last week which found that community renewables generated some 17 billion euros in revenue in 2012, two thirds of which remained in the local community. (Craig Morris)