This French village enjoys ‘no bills’ after building wind turbines and solar panels

This village in North East France is powered by renewable energy.

Electricity bills rose across France on 1 February and steadily over the past year. But in tiny Muttersholtz - a French village with just 2,200 inhabitants - the price-hike was greeted with some nonchalance.

Their bills were already near zero thanks to pioneering use of solar power and hydropower.

“We no longer have electricity bills, we are just subject to the tax for the use of the public network,” said Michel Renaudet, Muttersholtz’ first deputy mayor.

“Many people were asking the question, 'is it really worth spending so much money to make a micro power plant? Even if it's a very nice tool.'

“Today, we see ourselves completely rewarded. We already knew that we were on the right track…it's just incredible."

What’s happening in Muttersholtz?

The small town has built three turbines on its river, insulated its municipal buildings and installed photovoltaic solar panels on the roofs of several buildings. The ecorevamp cost more than €2 million - but the town is already reaping the benefits.

The municipality's energy consumption dropped by 40 per cent between 2008 and 2020.

Public buildings - like schools and council offices - use just 10 per cent of the energy that is produced. The council sells the remaining 90 per cent.

The village of Muttersholtz harnesses its river to fulfil municipal energy needs. - AFP

The renewable energy does not supply private homes of villagers, but the council plans to expand the usage soon.

“We have not yet opened to individuals, this will be a next step, but for the moment it only covers municipal needs”, said Julien Rodrigues, the town’s chief administrative officer.

The renewables generate 900 megawatts/hour. To cover the private houses and businesses in the village, they would require 14 times this output. This would require two wind turbines, or an area equivalent to seven football fields of photovoltaic panels.

Nonetheless, it saves the local government plenty of money.

"With today's prices, we save €43,000 per year in electricity, and the sale brings us around €60,000, even if we also have maintenance costs", explains Rodrigues.

The town was elected the French village of biodiversity in 2017 for its pioneering use of solar and hydropower. Locals believe that other towns should learn from its successes.

"The village is a bit of an innovator in this field,” says local Joanny Malblanc.

“Maybe everyone should follow the example because it's the future. We can't continue with fossil fuels. It's just not possible. We have to find solutions."