Commentary prokon becomes a cooperative: victory of the citizens

A successful model: The creditors of the insolvent wind energy company Prokon want to continue the project as a cooperative.

The gloomy clouds are clearing away. Photo: ap

Respect. What the "Friends of Prokon" have put together in recent weeks and months is remarkable. They were able to convince the insolvency administrator to develop a cooperative plan in addition to the classic investor plan – an extremely rare event.

They won well-known players in the eco-economy as supporters. And in the end, they convinced tens of thousands of creditors. This success was not to be expected, at least not at the beginning.

The "Friends of Prokon" (which, by the way, already existed in secret, so to speak, before the company’s insolvency) acted rather awkwardly toward the public at first. But when it came down to it, they rapidly professionalized themselves. This created a competition of the highest symbolic power.

On the one hand, there are committed people who want to keep their citizens’ project Energiewende in their own hands. On the other hand, there was EnBW, a company that had torpedoed the energy transition for decades, left society with billions in nuclear waste, continued to misinvest in climate-damaging coal even after the turn of the millennium, and then thought that full-page ads in Spiegel & Co. and a bundle of cash would be enough to grab Prokon.

Deceived. And that’s a good thing. The energy turnaround has always been first and foremost a citizens’ project, and it must remain so. While the established energy industry only considers the political post-Fukuhsima capers to be an energy turnaround, many citizens have decades of experience with the topic. By the way, the word Energiewende was already coined in a book title in 1980 by the oko-Institut – a foundation that resulted from the Wyhl resistance. And not in 2011 by Angela Merkel.

Citizen energy turnaround

Prokon will now write another chapter of this citizens’ energy turnaround. And it is to be hoped that the signal – the will of the citizens to participate – will also reach the politicians. In the past, politicians came up with a number of ideas to explicitly torpedo citizen involvement, such as the Capital Investment Code and the Small Investor Protection Act. The experience of a whole century shows that cooperatives are an unbeatably solid form of enterprise.

After all, the supporters of the Prokon cooperative also came from good stock: a cooperative bank that was not the least bit affected by the financial crisis, while major banks had to be rescued. And a cooperative energy supplier that is making steady profits while the listed electricity companies are on their last legs.

And so it is to be wished for the Prokon investors, who were once the victims of a windy businessman, that their company will now find itself in calmer waters. The cooperative is the best prerequisite for this.

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