Statement by Rehfelde Eigenenergie eG on the article by Jakub Wiech

Original text

“The remaining 90% of the costs was obtained as a bank loan, given at a record low rate of only 1.5%. When asked whether this is a normal interest rate for German banks, the representatives of the Rehfelde initiative reply with a smile, "For us, yes." They admit that they found the right bank to agree to invest in the venture.”

Statement by Rehfelde Eigenenergie eG

The statement is misleading on the part of Rehfelde Eigenenergie eG: Rehfelde Eigenenergie eG found the right bank here because the project has achieved secure revenues with limited risks. The bank examined the project documentation and found reliable project partners, sounds legal contracts and sufficient forecast reliability for the revenues from the returns.

Original text

“The main obstacle to recognising the Rehfelde’s initiative as an unqualified victory for Energiewende is the financial issues. Windenergie Rehfelde still needs to repay most of its loan. In addition, the investment will be shouldered with insurance fees and maintenance charges. All this will cost about 300,000 euros a year. Costs are still lower than might have been expected – mainly due to the exceptionally low loan repayments and the fact that the initiative's creators are trained engineers with many years of experience, and so can do the simpler maintenance work on their own.”

Statement by Rehfelde Eigenenergie eG

The success of the Energiewende project by the Rehfelder Initiative was not easy to achieve. The financing was only possible because interest rates were low and the risk- thanks to statutory feed-in tariffs - was minimal. As a result, the bank financed 90% of the equity, although running costs for maintenance, repair and insurance will accrue during the repayment. The willingness of the initiators to borrow so much money requires sound knowledge of wind energy.

Original text

“What does the Rehfelde initiative say about Germany’s Energiewende? First and foremost, it is clear that energy transformation à la Berlin takes money, money, and more money. In addition, the focus on expanding a renewable-energy park means spending a significant amount of money over a fairly long period while achieving relatively small profits, or even taking losses. If you take the investor-friendly country, banks and local authorities out of this investment cycle, you might conclude that no business entrepreneur would take on such an unprofitable risk.”

Statement by Rehfelde Eigenenergie eG

Investments are not without risk for the parties involved, but are almost always cost-covering and often high-profit. There are sufficient investors despite the high investment sums and the long repayment times because the legal framework minimizes the risk. The Energiewende would not work without any prospect of profit.  The Investors in Rehfelde expect an average return on equity of at least 3.9%.

Original text

“The creators of the Rehfelde initiative are not typical entrepreneurs, however. They are mainly fans of green energy focused on the idea of transforming to a “clean” energy system. Their conviction in the rightness of their views appears to recompense them for all the effort and resources they have expended in implementing the investment. Windenergie Rehfelde representatives have made it clear that they wanted their town to become a model – for the same reason they were glad that journalists had come from all over Central and Eastern Europe. It seems that the green activists had not supposed that the figures they were talking about might fill their guests with more horror than admiration.”

Statement Rehfelde Eigenenergie eG

The last sentence should perhaps be explained. It would not be correct to base fear on the failure to assess the financial aspects. The motivation of the parties involved is of a financial as well as idealistic nature. The incomes and revenues of residents and local businesses also improve the revenues of the municipality (from trade and income tax).

Original text

“It is hard to be surprised at representatives of the press who, with unabashed curiosity, questioned the Rehfelde activists on the funding for their investments. For people from countries far poorer than Germany, for a town of five thousand to spend 10 million euros on an energy transformation which turns out to have marginal returns is no small thing. As a comparison, in 2016 the authorities of the 7000-strong Polish community of Wąchock spent about PLN 18 million on all their needs. That is about 4.5 million euros. So the scale of the investment in the Rehfelde initiative may well shock.”

Statement Rehfelde Eigenenergie eG:

The first small steps with solar systems should be mentioned here: Since August 2013, the Rehfelde Eigenenergie eG has operated a photovoltaic system with a peak power of 56.6 kilowatts (kW) from the roof of the sports hall in Rehfelde. It converts sunlight into electricity and produces over 56,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year.

Article in English