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German Law Gave Ordinary Citizens a Stake in Switch to Clean Energy

Clean Break: Chapter 2 in the story of Germany's switch to renewables

By Osha Gray Davidson

Nov 14, 2012
(Page 3 of 3 )
Wind farm in Germany.

There is a broad consensus in Germany that paying somewhat higher electric bills is a fair exchange for moving to a clean energy future, said Ursula Sladek, who founded the Schönau Power Supply, Germany's first green energy co-op. Her evidence is compelling: the co-op began selling renewable power to a handful of neighbors in her Black Forest village in 1998. Today it serves 130,000 households and small businesses throughout Germany.

Unlike in the United States, where most people get their electricity from a single utility, Germans are free to choose from more than 800 electric companies. The success of her co-op shows that Germans are willing to pay more for renewable power, Sladek once told a German reporter, adding, "People aren't as dumb as politicians and energy providers think."

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

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Funding for Clean Break was provided by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, through a Climate Media Fellowship, and by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. 

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