"Our customers must have confidence in the product eco-electricity," says Stadtwerke. "This is why Enercity and Care and Naturstrom are the ideal combination." Naturstrom has forged a similar arrangement with the municipal utility of Giessen. The power trading company's Ralf Bischof says negotiations are underway with about ten other utilities for similar joint ventures.
Business on the free market has otherwise not gone smoothly for Naturstrom. The company came up against concrete in talks with several other utilities, including Dortmund Energie und Wasser; Drewag in Dresden; the municipal utilities in Greifswald, Karlsruhe, Krefeld, Soest and Wuppertal; and OSE, an east German regional utility in Fürstenwalde.
"The utilities are trying to stop their consumers from being bundled into fewer, larger customers," says Bischof. Many of them also offer their own green power and want to keep out the competition, he adds. In August Naturstrom lodged formal complaints against the utilities of Düsseldorf and Cologne at the Energy Supervisory Office of the Economics Ministry of the land of North Rhine Westphalia. The utilities obstructed Naturstrom's efforts to gain access household customers, the company claims.
Naturstrom contracts power only from new renewables generators-wind turbines, solar, hydro or biomass plant-which are not economic on the basis of German subsidies alone (Windpower Monthly, February 1999). "We want to increase the number of renewables plant in Germany, since otherwise there will be no growth in the clean generation sector," says Bischof.