Referendum on the remunicipalisation of Berlin's energy supply

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The referendum on the remunicipalisation of Berlin's energy supply is a failed referendum that was voted on on November 3, 2013 in the State of Berlin ; He strove for the re-transfer of the Berlin power grid into municipal ownership ( remunicipalisation ) and the establishment of a municipal utility . The Berlin electricity network has been operated by Stromnetz Berlin GmbH (a Vattenfall subsidiary ) since its privatization and until the current license expired on December 31, 2014 .

The coveted bill failed in the vote and was therefore not adopted. Although 83 percent of the voting participants voted yes , the quorum of 25 percent of all voters was narrowly missed with 24.1 percent. This meant that 21,374 yes-votes were missing for a successful outcome.


MyFest 2012: Berliner Energietisch collects signatures for the referendum
Final rally of the popular initiative “New Energy for Berlin” on October 31, 2013 at the Neptune Fountain in front of the Rotes Rathaus


An alliance of around 50 organizations, the Berliner Energietisch , carries the original referendum and the upcoming referendum. These include the Berlin sections of Attac , the Association for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany , the Green League , the People's Solidarity and the Education and Science Union, as well as local organizations such as the Berlin tenants' association , the Berlin tenant community and the group for the Interventionist Left a left flow . The alliance sees itself as independent of parties, but it is supported by the Berlin associations of the SPD , Greens , Left , Pirates and ÖDP .

The sponsors cite the reason that climate change has not yet been effectively countered. This is why a fundamental energy transition is required both in terms of energy generation and consumption. This has to be done in a socially acceptable way , since with rising energy prices the energy poverty also increases. After the negative experiences with the partial privatization of Landesbank Berlin and Berliner Wasserbetriebe , the owners also consider a high degree of democratic control to be necessary.

Prehistory and referendum

In 1997, the state of Berlin sold its majority of 50.7 percent in the municipal electricity supply company Bewag to an industrial consortium. After several resales, Bewag was absorbed into Vattenfall . The operative business was outsourced and split up in a second step. The Berlin distribution network was transferred to Vattenfall Europe Distribution Berlin GmbH, customer service and sales were transferred to two companies based in Hamburg.

In the summer of 2011, the Berlin Energy Table was formed based on the successful model of the Berlin Water Table with the aim of organizing the power supply in Berlin according to democratic, ecological and social criteria. In 2012, the initiative took the formal hurdles for initiating a referendum: Under the title New Energy for Berlin - Democratic, Ecological, Social , 30,660 valid signatures were collected by July 3rd. In a statement on August 14, the Berlin Senate expressed concerns about the content, but no legal objections were raised against the admissibility. After the House of Representatives had not commented on the project within the statutory period, the initiative applied for the referendum to be carried out. The title of the referendum was changed to the current one.

On January 25, 2013, the referendum was published in the official journal for Berlin . From February 11 to June 10, 2013, the initiative had to collect around 174,000 valid signatures. The popular request was successful because by the end of the registration period 271,496 signatures had been collected; 227,748 of these were valid. After a successful referendum, the date for the referendum was set for November 3, 2013, although it would have been possible to combine the referendum with the federal election on September 22, 2013. As the initiator of the referendum, the energy table expressed the assumption that the Senate hoped that the referendum would fail in this way due to the quorum of approval.

At the same time as the referendum and referendum, the Senate tried to found a municipal utility (but not on the basis desired by the energy table) and announced that it would also compete in the tender for the concession of the electricity and gas network, both as a pure self-contender and as well as a cooperation partner for possible third-party applicants. On October 24th, just ten days before the referendum, the Berlin House of Representatives decided, with the votes of the SPD and CDU, to found the announced municipal utility under the umbrella of Berliner Wasserbetriebe. The opposition criticized the short-term vote; Parliament was not given sufficient time to deliberate in advance, nor was the financing of the project clarified. In addition, one regards the version of such a resolution so shortly before a referendum on the same topic as “gross disregard for popular sovereignty”. The Berliner Energietisch initiative also criticized the decision, speaking of an “interception law” and the establishment of a “Ministadtwerk” which “only serves the tactical goal of taking the wind out of the sails of the referendum”.

Content of the referendum


The vote was taken on the draft law for the democratic, ecological and social energy supply in Berlin (Energie VG) , which essentially pursues the following objectives:

  • Establishment of municipal utilities as an institution under public law to generate electricity from renewable energies and to use energy-saving options
  • Establishment of a network company as an institution under public law with the aim of taking over the electricity networks on January 1, 2015
  • Counteracting energy poverty (energy poverty is the lack of access to affordable energy services)
  • Creation of democratic opportunities for participation through direct election of the board of directors, right of initiative and meetings

In detail

The bill provides for public utilities and a network company to be set up as an institution under public law. The purpose of the grid company is to take over the power grids on January 1, 2015. If a state-owned company is awarded the contract for the electricity grid in the current tendering process, this company is to be merged into the new grid company. The municipal utilities should contribute to the fact that in the long term Berlin's energy supply will come entirely from decentrally generated renewable energies . In addition, the bill also contains social and democratic requirements.

Ecological content

The municipal utilities are to generate and sell renewable energy. In addition, they should be an integrated energy service provider who also takes advantage of energy-saving opportunities and advises private individuals on energy-saving projects and the decentralized generation of renewable energies .

The energy produced and distributed should come from 100 percent renewable sources. To this end, the municipal utilities are to develop decentralized generation capacities. For a transitional period, highly efficient combined heat and power plants should also be permitted.

In addition to operating the network, the network company should also ensure that it is expanded in line with changing production and consumption structures. In particular, it should enable the rapid connection and feed-in of renewable energies.

Social content

In addition to supplying the residents with energy, the municipal utilities should also be given the task of counteracting energy poverty . Power locks should be prevented. The municipal utilities should ensure that energy- efficient building renovation is socially acceptable and encourage low-income households to purchase economical household appliances.

All those previously employed in network operations are to be offered a takeover by the network company to be founded. The existing collective agreements and works agreements are to be adopted. The number of employees should remain stable during the term of the concession agreement.

Democratic content

The draft law contains several regulations on public participation and transparency :

Direct election of the Board of Directors

Stadtwerke and Netzgesellschaft are each to be controlled by a 15-member board of directors . This should include the Senator for Economics and the Environment as well as seven employee representatives, as well as six board members who are directly elected by all residents registered in Berlin.

Initiative rights

The draft law provides for direct influence between the ballots for the population: An initiative can request to be heard by the board of directors if it has 3,000 signatures. The Board of Directors must then decide on the proposal within three months. If 5,000 signatures are submitted for a concern, the Board of Directors must conduct a customer survey, the result of which is not binding.


For the State of Berlin and in each district , a meeting should take place at least once a year to discuss the matters of the municipal utilities and the network company. Recommendations from the meetings must be dealt with by the Board of Directors within three months. Further assemblies can be called at the initiative of the population.


The municipal utilities and network company should each appoint an ombudsperson who will serve as a complaints office for customers and employees.


The draft law aims for a high degree of transparency. Meetings of the Board of Directors should be public. In particular, the agenda of the meetings, resolutions passed and reports of the management are to be published on the Internet.

Statement by the Berlin Senate and the Berlin House of Representatives

Both the Berlin Senate and the House of Representatives (with the votes of the government coalition consisting of the SPD and CDU) recommended that the referendum be rejected. In its statement, the Berlin Senate considered the bill put to the vote "in essential parts superfluous and in other parts wrong". In particular, three arguments were put forward:

On the one hand, considerable liability risks for the Berlin budget are identified. With the proposed establishment of a municipal utility as a public-law institution, Berlin would be directly and fully liable, in contrast to the state-owned companies that act according to the Berlin Works Act, such as the Berlin city cleaning company or the Berlin transport company. In addition, the control of the company to be founded is inadequate, since the supervision takes place via the board of directors, who in turn can determine remuneration and liability relief themselves. The composition of the board of directors, in which only two senators would represent the public control by elected representatives, was criticized. MPs would not have a seat on these supervisory bodies, so the liability holder would not be adequately represented. Together with the comprehensive funding commitments made in the concept put to the vote, the concept is viewed as prone to loss, since the proposed municipal utility is allowed to act uneconomically.

Berlin has also already established a network operation, so there is no need to found another network operator. The Landesbetrieb Berlin Energie has been involved in the current procurement procedure for the Berlin electricity grid since 2012, and a newly founded institution can no longer participate in this procedure. At this point it was also questioned to what extent a merger of the public utility company to be founded with the already existing network company was possible, as the Energietisch considered to invalidate this argument.

The energy table's draft law also does not improve environmental and climate protection policy. Due to federal regulations, network operators would have to grant every company non-discriminatory network access. Even if the state of Berlin bought the network, nuclear or coal electricity would be passed through the Berlin network. The exclusive supply of Berlin with green electricity pursued by the energy table ignores this fact. The goal of the citizens' initiative to make the Berlin energy network fit for the decentralized introduction of renewable electricity is already in place and is being implemented accordingly.

Voting result

The referendum was largely approved in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district (92.9%); the least approval came from the Reinickendorf district (73.3%). The Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district had the highest voter turnout (36.9%), while the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district (23.3%) had the lowest turnout .

Result according to the information from the head of the regional vote in Berlin in relative sizes
No. district Participation
(voting area)
(voting area)
1 centerBerlin center 27.7% 87.1% 24.1% 12.7% 0.2%
2 Friedrichshain-KreuzbergBerlin Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg 36.9% 93.0% 34.3% 6.8% 0.1%
3 PankowBerlin Pankow 31.9% 88.2% 28.1% 11.7% 0.2%
4th Charlottenburg-WilmersdorfBerlin Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf 31.1% 80.3% 25.0% 19.5% 0.2%
5 SpandauBerlin Spandau 23.4% 75.7% 17.8% 24.1% 0.2%
6th Steglitz-ZehlendorfBerlin Steglitz-Zehlendorf 32.9% 75.6% 24.9% 24.1% 0.2%
7th Tempelhof-SchönebergBerlin Tempelhof-Schöneberg 30.4% 81.2% 24.7% 18.6% 0.2%
8th NeuköllnBerlin Neukölln 28.1% 84.3% 23.7% 15.5% 0.3%
9 Treptow-KoepenickBerlin Treptow-Koepenick 29.6% 85.6% 25.4% 14.2% 0.2%
10 Marzahn-HellersdorfBerlin Marzahn-Hellersdorf 23.3% 82.5% 19.2% 17.3% 0.2%
11 LichtenbergBerlin Lichtenberg 25.0% 84.7% 21.1% 15.1% 0.3%
12 ReinickendorfBerlin Reinickendorf 26.8% 73.4% 19.6% 26.4% 0.2%
13 Berlin coat of arms Berlin (overall) 29.1% 83.0% 24.1% 16.8% 0.2%
Colors of the district numbers: formerly west , formerly east , west / east fusion district
Colors of the yes votes: number of yes votes reaches majority or quorum , number of yes votes does not reach majority or quorum

Summary result: The quorum of 25 percent of all eligible voters was missed with 24.1 percent (deep red box). The draft law was therefore not adopted (despite 83 percent approval); the referendum failed because the quorum failed to reach 25 percent.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Sebastian Erb: Vattenfall turn off the electricity. taz (Berlin) on March 5, 2012.
  2. After the vote count - the energy referendum just failed due to the quorum . Broadcasting Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB). Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  3. Referendum “New Energy” on November 3, 2013 - result of the referendum. The regional returning officer for Berlin. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  4. The Alliance. Berlin energy table.
  5. a b Popular initiative on the remunicipalisation of Berlin's energy supply (PDF; 1.6 MB), sponsor and wording. Announcement by the head of state voting in 2013.
  6. Ulrich Zawatka-Gerlach: Senate rejects referendum on energy. Tagesspiegel from August 15, 2012.
  7. ^ Statement of the Senate on the popular initiative "New Energy for Berlin - Democratic, Ecological, Social". (PDF; 1.7 MB) Berlin House of Representatives, printed matter No. 17/0452 of August 17, 2012.
  8. Official Journal for Berlin , January 25, 2013, p. 110
  9. Energietisch collects from February 11th for referendums . Welt Online , January 25, 2013.
  10. Petra Michaelis-Merzbach, the head of the state vote: Final result determined: referendum came about. (PDF; 24 kB) Press release. In: Statistical Office, June 25, 2013, p. 1 , accessed June 25, 2013 .
  11. That's a slap in the face from over 230,000 signatories . RBB News, July 17, 2013.
  12. Sabine Beikler, Sidney Gennies: Senate founds Stadtwerk shortly before the referendum. Power supply in Berlin. In: Tagesspiegel. October 23, 2013, accessed October 31, 2013 .
  13. Stefan Taschner: Coalition wants to pass an interception law. Referendum more important than ever. (PDF; 72 kB) Press release. Berliner Energietisch, October 24, 2013, accessed on October 31, 2013 .
  14. a b Official information on the referendum on the remunicipalisation of Berlin's energy supply. (PDF) The Head of State Voting Berlin, p. 30 , accessed on October 24, 2013 .
  15. New energy for Berlin. Cornerstones of the draft law for a democratic, ecological and social energy supply. (PDF; 69 kB) Berliner Energietisch, January 2012.
  16. Report of the head of the regional voting - final result (PDF; 806 kb). Office for Statistics Berlin-Brandenburg, p. 3.
  17. The specified 25% results from rounding to one decimal place in this table. The result was 24.9639%, which means that the required quorum was just missed with 94 votes (compare The State Returning Officer for Berlin - referendum "New Energy" on November 3, 2013, absolute results at a glance )