The Berliner Energietisch, roughly translated as Berlin Energy Roundtable, was founded in 2011 and is an alliance of around 56 local civil society groups. Moreover it is the initiator of an impressive big campaign in which Berlin's citizens were asked to ‘reclaim’ Berlin's power.
The Berliner Energietisch is a broad social alliance and a socio-ecological movement of local Berlin initiatives and organizations and many dedicated citizens. The non-party alliance sees itself as an open platform. Currently 56 local civil society groups joined the coalition. These alliance partners range from large organizations to small initiatives from across the social and environmental movements to activist networks. Church groups, welfare and tenant counselling organizations as well as cultural associations could be found in the alliance as well as the usual suspects from the environmental and social association.
The overall aim was the establishment of a more ecological, social and democratic energy supply in Germany’s capital. Therefore the Berliner Energietisch draft law was put up to vote in November 2013. 600.000 Berliners voted in favour of the initiatives idea. But it failed due to a Berlin-specific barrier – a 25- per cent quorum. This means that a valid referendum is just achieved when at least 25 per cent of Berlin's electorate say ‘yes’. So although more than 80 per cent voted with ‘yes’ the referendum failed. . In the end only 21.000 votes were missing.
Nevertheless the Berliners have set a clear signal towards a public owned energy supply and this could not be neglected, neither by Berlin's federal state government nor by referendum opponents.
The Berliner Energietisch is still active and constructively supervises the energy policy of the Berlin federal state government.
- The window of opportunity for remunicipalisation opens up, as the concession contracts for the energy and gas supply networks of Berlin will end 2013 and 2014.
- Initial meeting of the NGOs attac Berlin AG Energie, BürgerBegehren Klimaschutz und PowerShift to discuss ideas.
- Founding of the „Berliner Energietisch“/Energy Round Tabel after a full-day workshop.
10/2011 - 01/2012
- After intense discussions during 12 meetings, the panel of the Berlin Round Table on Energy finalized and accepted the draft law for the referendum „New Energy in Berlin-democratic, ecological, social“ on the 18. January 2012.
- Start of collecting signatures, accompanied by a press conference and campaigning activities.
- The Senate of Berlin declares the proposal for the “Volksbegehren” of the Berlin Round Table on Energy for accepted without limitation.
- The plenum of the Berlin Round Table on Energy decides with one voice to start a “Volksbegehren” (2nd level).
- The collection of signatures in the “Volksbegehren” (2nd level) starts.
- The time to gather signatures is over! The Round Table hands in 271.494 signatures. 227.748 of them will be accepted as valid.
- Ignoring intense protests the Senate of Berlin shifts the date of the vote for the referendum (“Volksentscheid”) on the 3rd of November.
- Only a few days before the referendum the reigning coalition (Social Democrats & Conservatives) decides the formation of a mini-municipal utility. Its design lags behind the conception of the one by the Roundtable. This „parliamentary foul“ (cite Tagesspiegel) is designed as a tactic to steal the Round Table’s thunder.
- In the referendum 83% of the participants in Berlin vote for the municipal utility and want the nets back into the ownership of the municipality. In all districts of the city there were high numbers of positive votes. Nevertheless the referendum was lost, as the approval quorum of 25% of the voters was missed by an extremely narrow margin.
The power supply is important to everyone in Berlin. In the hands of large corporations, it is managed to maximize profit rather than to serve the needs of Berlin’s citizens.
The days of coal and nuclear power are over! The Berlin municipal power company will rely on decentralized renewable energy plants in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. The goal is to provide you with 100 percent real green power.
Profits stay in Berlin
The grid buyback is worth it! Berlin will benefit from a secure source of income over the long term, and the profits will stay in our region, rather than enriching Vattenfall’s corporate headquarters.
Democratic control of the energy supply
The citizens of Berlin will be able to participate in the shaping of their energy supply. Berlin voters will directly elect some members of the power company’s Board of Directors, and citizen initiatives and other mechanisms will allow Berliners to directly participate in and influence power company policies.
Energy conservation and efficiency can make an important contribution to climate protection. Berlin’s municipal power company will support this goal, which will also lead to lower energy bills.
A socially responsible energy transition
Our municipal utilities will provide a socially responsible transition to low-carbon energy. Low-income households will receive targeted energy-saving advice and will receive support to purchase energy-saving household appliances. Energetic modernization of buildings should not overburden low-income households.
Transparency instead of secret treaties
The municipal utility and grid company will operate under clear rules for transparency. Important documents will be published on the Internet, allowing citizens the opportunity to examine company policies. This will help make the pricing of electricity rates clear and understandable.
october 30, 2013: "John Riceburg: Power to the people!" - exberliner.com
june 13, 2013: "Berlin and Hamburg Referenda to Reverse Electricity Grid Privatization" - truth out
march 05, 2013: "Big Energy Battle: An Unlikely Effort to Buy Berlin's Grid" - spiegel online international
march 17, 2013: "Referendum movement in Berlin aims to democratize entire energy sector" - democracy at work
april 16, 2013: "Gaining public ownership of electricity in Berlin" - The Municipal Services Project