A Berlin cooperative, BürgerEnergie Berlin, is gathering funds and building a model of democratic decision making with the ultimate aim of buying and running the city’s electricity grid.
At the moment, the city’s energy grid is run by a subsidiary of the Swedish state owned corporation Vattenfall, whose contract with the Berlin municipality ended in 2014. This is an interim measure while the next contract is negotiated. BürgerEnergie is one of three applicants bidding to purchase and operate the grid, who are all being evaluated by the Berlin Parliament to determine which is the best option - the date of this decision is not yet known.
In the meantime, BürgerEnergie continue to gather members and support, and develop their strategy. At the moment, 2300 have contributed financially, pooling together around 12 million euros. All citizens can become members, with a minimum purchase of 5 shares at 100 euros a share. Every member, regardless of their number of shares, has an equal vote in the frequent general assemblies.
BürgerEnergie paving the way towards a sustainable, citizen-led energy system, which they argue will accelerate the transition to renewable energy. With fossil fuels, one large centralised fossil power plant can power several cities. With renewables, however, energy is generated in many small plants, wherever the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. So a different distribution model is needed; decentralised and often with energy sources closer to the consumer. BürgerEnergie, with decentralisation and citizen power at its core, and no vested interest in fossil fuels (as is the case with Vattenfall, they argue), will be able to accelerate the transition to renewable energy while democratising its ownership and operation.