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December 2007

Homemade Climate Protection

How to contribute to sustainability with public utilites

A long with grocery store circulars and TV guides, one of the biggest culprits of mailbox clutter are leaflets inviting you to change your electricity provider. “It’s so much cheaper,” they claim. (This is not really true.) They say, “It’s so easy!” (Indeed, it is.) Sometimes they even say that electricity is yellow. (That’s just rubbish.) Why don’t you tackle the problem from the other side? Instead of just switching to save a measly 20 to 30 Euros a year, change your electricity provider to support a supplier that uses only regenerable resources like sun, water, wind, biomass and geothermic resources.
Did you know that 40 % of CO2 emissions worldwide come from producing electricity? The easiest way to reject the self-destructive tendencies of the global energy market is to beat them with their own weapon: stop demanding their products. New Ökostrom companies are a green and clean alternative, and do not contribute to atomic risks or the CO2 emissions that are ruining our climate and our living world. Why should you unwittingly fund the destruction of landscapes? The beautiful mountaintops of Appalachia, for example, are being blasted and obliterated for coalmining. And why support the atomic risks of nuclear energy plants by buying their electricity? The potential costs are not included in your electricity bill. (Unfortunately, we all know by now that the only “secure” way to dispose of the leftover radiated waste is for governments to turn them into weapons.)
All the big electric companies in Germany use coal and atomic technology as their main resources. Recently, they’ve tried to take part in the new ecological consciousness by offering some new rates for Öko- or Naturstrom. Such actions, however, cannot hide the fact that you still would be delivering your money to companies who are utilizing and investing in non-renewable energy. Therefore, if you want to join the new grassroots movement for climate protection, don’t just buy into one of the wellmarketed green rates of the old companies. Take a stand for your personal change and buy electricity with social and ecological added value from a company that invests all its income in “clean electricity.”
The reasons for change are clear, but what about the means? It’s more of an administrative change than a physical one: Just like with the telephone companies, the last mile to the end customer always stays physically the same, so you needn’t worry about any interruptions or the juice being cut off. All you have to do is give your money to another company, one that produces “clean” energy. There are four Ökostrom providers that service all of Germany and generate electricity solely from renewable sources. (See box.) You can order their servi- ces online, by phone or by fax, in just a few minutes. Have the number of your electric meter (Stromzähler) handy. You can find it on your last bill or on the meter itself. You may also need to report your electricity usage of the past year, which you’ll find on your old bill as well. Finally, you’ll need to supply your bank information for your new bills. (The prices are more or less the same as other providers’, but the bills are actually easier to understand.) The new company will cancel the contract with your old provider, and as for your new one, don’t worry about year-long contracts: You can quit at any time with six weeks’ notice. (Except Naturstrom, which requires a 36-month minimum running time for every contract.) All told, the change will take about six weeks, and you’ll have done something substantial for climate protection!
You also should know that water, gas supply and electricity supply are completely separate. Even if you now get all from one provider — such as the Stadtwerke München, SWM - you can switch only with your electricity to an Ökostrom provider. If you are not directly billed from the electricity company, however, and the facility management (Hausverwaltung) sends you your bill, you may have to ask your facility manager if a provider change is possible. If not, then just go and buy a basket full of energy saving bulbs, and multiple socket outlets. (They’ll help you cut off all those standby devices with one switch when going to bed or leaving the house.) Whatever you do, it’s easy to make an effective contribution to climate protection right inside your own home.


Naturstrom AG/NaturStromHandel GmbH, Tel. 0211-77900 4 44

Greenpeace Energy eG, Tel 040 - 808 110-340

EWS (Elektrizitätswerke Schönau), Tel. 07673-88850

Lichtblick, Tel. 0180-2-660 660

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