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Remunicipalisation as an Instrument for Local Climate Strategies in Germany: The Conditions of the Legal Energy Framework as an Obstacle for the Local Energy Transition

Kurt Berlo, Wolf Templin, Oliver Wagner


This article explores recent developments in the field of remunicipalisation in the German electricity market. Actually, the established socio-technical regime of the electricity market generates considerable inertia and impedes fundamental change. But regarding the energy transition (German Energiewende) a fundamental change is needed; it is essential to promote a broader range of actors and institutions to overcome the existing regime resistance. Many local policy-makers and municipalities in Germany discover chances and possibilities for local action which arise from remunicipalisation. The establishment of municipal power utilities offers the opportunity of implementing an independent energy policy at local level which is critical in creating a transformation to a sustainable energy system based on renewable energies and energy efficiency. The municipal ownership allows a strong governance towards more political influence on the local energy market but the current court decisions regarding the takeover of electricity grids taken by the former concession holder of municipal utilities (Stadtwerke) in Germany make it difficult to realise the full potential of energy policy at a local level. The requirements for a legitimate process are still very high and far too complex to be fulfilled by the local authorities without the help of specialised legal advice.

Dr Kurt Berlo Project Coordinator at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy in the Research Group ‘Energy, Transport and Climate Policy’. Dr Wolf Templin is specialist lawyer for energy law at the law office Boos Hummel & Wegerich. Oliver Wagner is Project Coordinator at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy in the Research Group ‘Energy, Transport and Climate Policy.’

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