Nuclear-Free Future

in the Category


is presented to



Los Alamos
26 September 1999

Ursula u. Michael Sladek / EWS

Schönau, the home of Dr. Ursula and Dr. Michael Sladek, together with some other 2681 inhabitants, is an idyllic community flourishing in the hills of Germany’s Black Forest.

During the days following the Chernobyl accident, the Sladeks, together with other concerned, local parents, formed an initiative called, “Parents for a Nuclear-Free Future.” At first the group addressed their attentions to such immediate concerns as determining the local levels of radioactive soil and water contamination. They also saw to it that the sand was changed at all the playgrounds. As time went on, group members – committed to a future with no more Chernobyls – sought to reduce their private energy consumptions. Slowly, however, the initiative came to the realization that energy reduction alone would never usher in a nuclear-free era. The idea then was borne to create a local energy grid, one that did not tap into any source of nuclear energy. Many years of bitter infighting with the city council ensued, before the initiative – after winning two community referendums and managing to wrestle the local power grid concession away from Kraftübertragungswerke Rheinfelden – was able to found “Elektrizitäswerk Schönau, (EWS)” The transfer of power cost the community some $3,000,000 – a sum that was raised through donations.

“The money taken in goes to the advancement and improvement of the environmentally friendly power production.”

Today Elektrizitäswerk Schönau produces energy from a variety of sources, including the bundling of such regenerative fuels as water and solar energy. Even the roof of the local church is working for Elektrizitäswerk Schönau, feeding it’s surplus energy into the national power grid.

Michael Sladek: “With a small advertising campaign, we have already sold a million kilowatt hours of power across Germany. We believe this is due to our credibility and effectiveness, because we show the customer to the penny where the money taken in is used. For the most part it goes to the advancement and improvement of the environmentally friendly power production.”

The Sladeks have waged their battle using no other ideology than common sense. Perhaps that’s the reason their concerns are accepted and backed by the vast majority of Schönau citizens. This Black Forest community’s success has many fathers and mothers; it is by no means alone the accomplishment of the Sladeks. At the same time, it would never have come about without their engagement. What greatly worries the German electrical monopolies from Flensburger Förde to Lake Constance is that one day people will not only know where Schönau is, but will try to copy the community’s example. That one day Schönau will not only be in every mouth, but in every electrical socket as well. Schönau everywhere.

–Claus-Peter Lieckfeld
English translation: Craig Reishus