Over the past years, the conditions for municipal companies active in the fields of energy, water, sewage, waste and public transport have changed in a fundamental way. Both, liberalisation of EU and national competition legislation and the poor financial situation of the municipalities have put companies under pressure. They have to face stronger competition while, at the same time, they have to fulfil their tasks of providing public service for improved quality of life in the cities and contributing to the mitigation of climate change.
Which perspectives for sustainable public service can be developed in this context? This is the objective of the research partnership between 13 municipal companies of the supply, sewage, and waste sectors with the Wuppertal Institute, the association of municipal companies (VKU) and the VKU's working group for rational use of energy and water (ASEW).
The studies are to provide scientific support to the partners in preparing strategies and measures for the sustainable development of their local infrastructures. This concerns the business areas of energy supply, water supply and sewage, as well as domestic waste treatment and recycling of consumer goods. An eco-efficient and quality-focussed path for development has to be drafted, harnessing the comparative strengths of local infrastructures in the competition. This must be closely tied to the objectives of regional development (e.g. those related to quality of life, attractiveness for businesses, regional labour market).