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Ecological heating still the goal for Leimental

An unfavorable change in the underlying conditions has compelled EBM (Elektra Birseck Münchenstein) to abandon its project for a new energy supply center in Bottmingen and withdraw the appeal it had lodged with the Cantonal Court. It will retain the current decentralized structure and plan whatever renewals of the conventional heating and power plants are necessary together with the municipalities concerned. The goal is to operate these plants most economically on the basis of renewable energy.

EBM holds stakes in four power supply companies in Leimental: Wärmeverbund Binningen AG (WBA), Wärmeverbund Bottmingen AG (WVB), Wärmeverbund Oberwil-Therwil AG (WOT) and EBM Birsmatten AG (Therwil). These four heating networks were to have been integrated into a single large network operating from a new, high-performance energy supply center.

In 2012, EBM developed a project for a new energy supply center in Bottmingen. The projected costs looked promising and the four power supply companies involved, as well as the respective municipalities, were in favor of the project. A building permit was issued for the project in May 2015. An objection to the permit was lodged with the building appeals commission (Baurekurskommission, BRK). The commission ruled on 24 April 2016 that the project did not conform to zoning regulations. EBM subsequently appealed the decision to the Cantonal Court. EBM has since decided to withdraw its appeal and cancel the energy supply center project in Bottmingen.

A detailed analysis of the present situation, in particular the current regulatory conditions, revealed developments that would impact negatively on the planned project, i.e. loss of the federal government's compensatory feed-in remuneration (KEV) combined with low prices on the energy market, and this led to the decision to drop the project. Since the project was delayed and still has no clear starting date, it will not be possible to qualify for compensatory feed-in remuneration, which, given the low prices on the market for electricity and fossil fuels, was a requirement for the project to operate economically and offer customers competitive prices for power from renewable energy sources.

After consulting with the municipalities involved, EBM came to the conclusion that given the downturn in the framework conditions the "Wärmeverbund Leimental" (Leimental heating network) showcase project was no longer feasible. Michael Schneider, CEO of EBM Wärme AG, explained that "the project can no longer be operated economically and, therefore, end customers would not be able to benefit from advantageous prices."

EBM energy supply center in Bottmingen – a lost opportunity for Bottmingen

WVB Wärmeverbund Bottmingen AG (WVB), in which the municipality of Bottmingen is the principal stakeholder, with over 80 percent of the shares, supplies heating to 45 buildings, including 388 living units, through its 2.1 kilometer-long network. The two old heating plants (Burggarten and Municipal Administration), which are powered by oil and gas, would have been substituted through the integration of WVB into the wood-fired CHP plant in Bottmingen, which would not only have been economically beneficial, but would have been an exemplary project perfectly in line with the energy strategy of the federal government and the municipality of Bottmingen. Unfortunately, in the complex planning process, it was not possible to assuage the critical arguments put forward by some residents, which led to the objections being lodged and the ensuing delays. Given that compensatory feed-in remuneration no longer applies, the planned wood-fired CHP plant is not financially feasible at the present time. For WVB, this means that heating will continue to be fuelled by oil and gas (with no electrical power production) for the time being.

The municipalities and EBM nevertheless have a strategic mandate to produce heating ecologically and in the most economically efficient way possible in Leimental, in line with the national and cantonal energy strategy and in the interest of all end customers. Hence, in the existing decentralized structure comprising the four different heating networks, the emphasis will be put on replacing conventional heating facilities as needed with facilities that operate on the basis of renewable energy.

To this end, EBM will work together with the Boards of Directors of the four heating companies and their shareholders and the municipalities to find suitable, individual solutions. The objective will remain the same: to provide EBM customers with a substantial volume of additional renewable energy at economical prices.

 Further information:

  • EBM, Joachim Krebs, Head of Corporate Communication, phone +41-61-4154385
  • Municipality of Bottmingen: Ernst Bringold, Municipal Councilor, phone +41-61-4014793
  • Municipality of Binningen: Bernard Keller, Deputy Head of Administration, phone +41-61-4255270
  • Municipality of Therwil: Thomas Kamber, Municipal Councilor, phone +41-61-7212889

EBM

EBM has been internationally active in the energy sector since 1897 as a cooperative under private law. We offer our customers products that meet their needs reliably and we promote renewable energies and energy efficiency in the areas of the grid, electricity supply and district heating supply. We currently supply energy to over 235,000 private individuals and numerous businesses. Our traditional home market comprises 60 local authorities in the Swiss cantons of Basel-Landschaft and Solothurn and in Alsace, France. As a leading supplier of district heating, EBM operates 223 heating plants in Switzerland and Alsace. We strive to be faithful to our vision by constantly developing EBM as a modern, customer-focused and cost-efficient utility company. In short, our company, with its 400 employees and 15 trainees, is very familiar with energy, as it has been since 1897.

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