Currently they earn $5.7 million in revenue a year by selling their extra energy back to the national grid.
They made their changes over a period of 14 years, and they did it without going into debt. See their story and slide show here.
For more information on this village's energy transformation, see this article, or do some googling.
Wildpoldsried's experience and inspiration is now available not just online but in person. The mayor visits other towns, giving advice on how to make changes. Also, the village council offers energy tours and talks for people who want to visit the village to see for themselves.
Don't know about you, but I've been waiting 40 years for a story like this. On one hand, during those decades, a number of individuals and, more recently, commercial buildings have achieved energy independence, sometimes economically. On the other hand we've heard way too many repetitions of lines like alternative energy is "too expensive," "impractical," "unreliable," "not scaleable," blah blah blah. These are the turf-defending views of King CONG (Harvey Wasserman's name for the Coal Oil Nuclear natural Gas industries).
CONG needs us to believe that we must have their deep-water drilling, their hydrofracking, mountaintop removal coal mining, and nukes in order to have enough energy.
Enter Wildpoldsried. The accomplishment of this one small village stands as a potent refutation of CONGtalk. CONG is simply wrong. Energy independence is in fact possible and practical. A group of people with good leaders decided to make a change, acted on their decision, and change happened.
It can happen in more places. Maybe the rest of us will be inspired by the Wildpoldsried story. Maybe there's hope for our species to sustainably inhabit this planet, after all.
photo by jinterwas on flickr