The Municipality of Rättvik leads the way

In many ways, Municipal Commissioner Inge Östlund of the Municipality of Rättvik is a pioneer. He realised the financial benefits of investing in wind power long before most other municipalities. In 2007, the Municipality decided to buy two wind turbines. The Municipality of Rättvik set the example, and the ”Rättvik Model” became a recognised concept.

Data:

  •  The Municipality of Rättvik is situated in the province of  Dalarna, in the area around Lake Siljan, 280 km north of Stockholm. It is the home of 11,000 people.
  • The Municipality’s annual electricity usage is around 16.5 GWh.
  • Representing the Centre Party, Inge Östlund has been Municipal Commissioner for the Municipality of Rättvik since 2007.
  • The Municipality owns 2.43 turbines (the remaining 0.57 share of one of the turbines is owned by a wind power cooperative). Two of the turbines were procured in 2007 and one in 2010.
  • Wind power generated by the turbines covers around 70 percent of the Municipality’s electricity consumption, and Inge Östlund believes that owning wind turbines  saves the Municipality SEK 3 million a year.

1. How did you come up with the idea of buying a wind turbine?
Back in 2006, I saw in a planning permission application that OX2 had applied for permission to erect 15 wind turbines in the Municipality of Rättvik. This got me interested, and after looking into it further and realising that a Municipality could benefit from owning wind power, I contacted OX2. Following discussions, we agreed that Rättvik would buy two turbines.

2. What inspired you to start the process?
I knew that the Municipality used 16.5 GWh of electricity a year, and that this was a major expense. It didn’t take long to work out that we could reduce this cost substantially. Naturally, we are keen to improve our environmental profile as well, but that was really an added bonus. There is nothing wrong in a Municipality caring for the environment. We hadn’t considered wind power before, since the smaller wind turbines available in the past, which were sited on lower towers, were simply not suitable for an area largely covered in forest.  I regarded it as a quite a dramatic development for a rural area – it is pretty rare to see investments worth billions of SEK out in the sticks. I felt that we simply had to jump at the opportunity and I didn’t meet any resistance. I am glad I was so quick on my feet, as the investment has proved very profitable.

3. How was your idea received within the Municipality?
It was a unanimous decision, and no one objected. A contributory factor was that OX2, as a private company, had formed a wind power cooperative, and this inspired us to do the same ourselves. The broad ownership means that people take a positive view of this development, and this was particularly obvious at the official opening of the wind farm in May 2009. I will never forget that day. The ownership structure helps to avoid criticism since everyone who wants to can come on board.

4. What is your experience of procuring wind power?
The profitability of the project helped us decide to invest. I saw an enormous potential to earn money during the life of the turbine, and the Municipality’s environmental profile would also be stronger. The whole project has helped to improve awareness among local people. They have read a lot about wind power in the local newspapers, and they can see that things are happening in the area. The environment is a much more frequent topic of discussion now than it was before the wind farm was built. Dalarna is a sparsely-populated area, and environmental issues are not as hot a topic here as it is in the towns and cities. But the construction of the wind farm has really improved people’s awareness. We have decided that we want to be up-to-date environmentally. We have replaced a lot of our oil consumption with the installation of bio energy district heating power plants.

5. Has there been a lot of interest in the Rättvik wind power model?
I have travelled up and down the country, talking about the Rättvik Model, and it has been great fun! I could never have predicted what a rollercoaster this would turn out to be for me. At municipal level, many politicians have not really kept up with wind power developments, and I am now frequently invited to give talks on the subject. People call me several times a week to ask me questions, find out how I did the calculations and what the process was like. I think I’ve been to 14 or 15 different places to talk about this. I suggested to the Municipality of Mora that they should look into it further, and they have now bought one of the turbines planned for Hedbodberget. It has been an incredibly exciting journey for me, and one which I’d never foreseen. In Ånge, they invited me to join them as Municipal Commissioner!

6. What do you think the success factors are in wind power procurement and deals between the business and municipal sectors?
To get anywhere, you have to be on top of the subject. People are not going to accept wind turbines automatically. There has to be an interest. The Community Fund is important in the north of Sweden. It’s vital to be up to speed on the legislation in this area as well.

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