How a Group of Concerned Citizens Started a Power Co-op

Ursula Sladek, a 2011 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient, is the co-founder and president of EWS, one of Europe’s largest cooperatively owned green energy companies. Motivated by the nuclear...

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Ursula Sladek, a 2011 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient, is the co-founder and president of EWS, one of Europe’s largest cooperatively owned green energy companies. Motivated by the nuclear fallout from Chernobyl in 1986, the schoolteacher and mother of five from the small town of Schönau (population 2,382) in Germany’s Black Forest region — along with her husband Michael and a group of concerned parents — unsuccessfully lobbied her regional power company to adopt conservation measures, to no avail. After over 10 years of citizen activism and two referendums, Sladek and her small-town energy rebels were able to take over the local grid and start a community-run power co-op.

With total sales reaching 67 million euro in 2009, EWS has long outgrown its local market. While Schönau boasts three times the national average in photovoltaics, 20 cogeneration units, two hydroelectric plants, and a windmill, EWS today provides power from over 1,800 solar, hydroelectric, wind, biomass and…

How to Start Your Own Power Company, Stop Coal and Nukes, and Transform Your City | AlterNet

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