Important Step Towards Citizen Participation in the Energy Transition
The coalition of the Greens, SPD, FDP, and Volt is initiating the establishment of a Citizen Energy Cooperative (Bürger*innenenergiegenossenschaft, BEG) to support the energy, mobility, and heat transition. The city council is tasked with forming an initial founding team, formulating a business idea, and paving the way for all further steps to establish a new Frankfurt BEG. In addition, the city council is requested to examine and report whether a longer-term form of support from the city, in financial, organizational, as well as in ideal terms, is possible and sensible, and to what extent further cooperatives should be established.
“The establishment of a BEG is a brilliant opportunity to jointly invest in the expansion of solar energy with the citizens and at the same time retain economic power in the region. The formation of a BEG represents a practically tested form of democratically organized, solidary economic activity, which allows for a high degree of citizen participation. The new BEG also offers people with lower incomes the opportunity to actively participate in this process and share in the financial benefits of independent, self-determined energy production. In view of the dominance of fossil energy companies and uncertainties due to political conflicts, local energy supply in the hands of the citizens makes us more independent and secures our freedoms,” says Martin Huber, climate policy spokesperson of the Volt faction.
Above all, solar energy offers considerable potential in Frankfurt for affordable, climate-neutral, and locally produced energy, which has so far remained largely untapped. The city should investigate its own installation areas and decide which ones it will develop itself and which ones it can make available for use by BEG’s under what conditions. “Short-term realizable financial benefits on the part of the city would primarily be electricity savings and rental income of varying amounts from public buildings through the photovoltaic systems installed and financed by the cooperative,” says Martin Huber, climate policy spokesperson of the Volt faction.
Furthermore, the city is highly dependent on the commitment of its citizens locally in order to finally equip the roofs of the city to a much greater extent with PV systems. So far, local electricity generation is mostly realized by homeowners for their own consumption, but over 90 percent of all households could become electricity producers as members of energy communities.
“To mobilize the high private share of the city’s solar yield due to property ownership, we must work actively together with the citizens and enter into community electricity generation on a large scale. With the establishment of a BEG and the longer-term support of the city, we can actively drive this goal forward and steer it,” says Martin Huber, climate policy spokesperson of the Volt faction.
“Many possible PV installations on private roofs fail not because of the willingness of the citizens or small businesses, but in addition to the large financial investment, also because of the cumbersome authorization, the jungle of subsidy programs, taxes, and the frustrating search for craft businesses. And each individual measure essentially involves the same immense effort. An energy community, on the other hand, finances and benefits together and also takes on most of the bureaucracy,” says Martin Huber, climate policy spokesperson of the Volt faction.
However, BEGs are not only limited to projects for the installation of photovoltaic systems on municipal or private roof areas. In recent months, they have increasingly also implemented projects to support the heating transition (e.g., the realization of local district heating networks) or the mobility transition (e.g., the establishment of electric charging stations for car-sharing offers).