New start for the regional works

They were launched at the height of the energy turnaround euphoria with partly rough expectations: the regional plants were to act as a "neutral advisor, coordinator and service provider … The demand for renewable energies in the bamberg region with high regional value creation and the involvement of local communities and citizens" to achieve the region's energy self-sufficiency by 2035, which is the goal of the climate alliance between the city and the district. However, shortly after the founding of the company in december 2012, sand was thrown in the gears by auben.

In spring 2013, the state parliament election campaign began in bavaria and the then prime minister horst seehofer discovered the vociferous opponents of wind power for himself. With the 10-H distance regulation, which became law in bavaria in november 2014, the regionalwerke's roughest and most important project, the burgerwindpark brunn in heiligenstadt, died.

The regionalwerke – in which the city of bamberg, the district of bamberg, 31 district municipalities and the municipal utilities are shareholders – had to look for new business fields. With the consulting and planning of municipal energy projects (z.B. (street lighting, combined heat and power plants, photovoltaic systems) and other services in the energy sector, managing director hubert tremel-franz managed to break even for the first time in 2016.

Double top from the administration

But now, according to the will of the shareholders, the regional works are to reposition themselves. From 1. June, climate protection officers gunter reinke (city) and robert martin (county) to take over management and revise management model. "In order to continue to support the regional climate protection goals in the best possible way, further development of the strategy is indispensable", this year's acting chairman of the supervisory board, bamberg's mayor andreas stark (SPD), and his deputy, district administrator johann kalb (CSU), announced in a press release at the end of last week.

The future co-managing director robert martin is reluctant to go into detail about what the new business model of regionalwerke might look like before he takes up his post. Existing projects were naturally continued. One advantage may be that the climate alliance of the city and district with its climate and energy agency – of which martin is the managing director -, climate protection and regionalwerke have been bundled together. "This can result in synergy effects", he says.

Electromobility could therefore become a new focus, be it the charging infrastructure or e-car sharing, which had previously been organized by the district via the municipalities. Other fields could also aim in the direction of pushing the use of one's own electricity and involvement in municipal energy management. The task for the new managers is to create a new concept. "My ambition is there", martin explains.

Martin and reinke will be watched by many critical eyes in their work. "The realignment is urgently needed", heinz jung, for example, an SPD district councilor and member of the supervisory board of the regional works, makes this clear. The local energy turnaround needs to be brought back into focus. In view of the changed political framework, it is important to open up new scope for action. "I hope that this is going in a good direction", young shows conditional optimism. The discussion about it in the political bodies is absolutely necessary.

Doubts about the realignment

On the personnel decision, jung says: "this can only be a transitional solution". For an efficient implementation of the new business model, a full-time employee will certainly be necessary again. The gruns in the city and the district take an even more critical view of the personnel matter. "A disgrace is sold to the public as a new beginning", they write in a press release. There can be no talk of success and departure, says GAL board member jonas glusenkamp, for example.

"It is no longer profitable for the regional plants to have their own manager because there is simply not enough to do due to a lack of projects. And this minimal solution is now being hyped up as a new beginning", district councillor bernd fricke is quoted as saying.

The realignment is "an attempt to optimize the whole thing", says martin. He certainly does not see himself as a bureaucratic administrator, as the greens imply. And anyone who knows the committed climate protection officer will believe him when he says: "my ambition is there."

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