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02/22/2013

More windmills than homes in this German village

Windmills

(Getty Images)

So this is what freedom is.

A German village has gone off fossil fuels or nuclear power and relies solely on windmills, solar power and biogas on its own. Feldheim is 90 kilometres south of Berlin and home to about 150 people. Oh, it also is home to more windmills than homes, 47 windmills to be precise.

So this is how the residents got their freedom and cut down their hydro bills: Energiequelle helped the villagers set the energy project and each one of them contributed about $4,000 to build the electrical grid in 2010. It also helped create more than two dozen jobs.

Usage charges are set at community meetings but their bills are 30 per cent less than average now. Feldheim villagers also reportedly heat their homes for 10 per cent less than the average German.

So many windmills, do they bother the villagers?

One resident told treehugger.com that you can “hear the windmills when the wind is blowing towards the town from the windfarm” but says that low, constant sound can be easily ignored. That residents’ benefit so much from the towering windmills makes up for any small inconveniences, he added.

The local fire chief also told treehugger.com that since Fukushima meltdown in 2011, Feldheim has been flooded by delegations of Japanese representatives looking to learn from the locals. They
have also had visitors from South Korea, the U.S., Iran and Canada.

Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star’s environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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