Barbara Lempp, a lawyer by training, came to energy policy through Herbert Reul. In 2003, she applied to the current CDU Minister of the Interior for North Rhine-Westphalia to work as an advisor in the European Parliament. Reul asked her in the job interview which policy field he should be interested in if elected. She suggested energy policy to him.
Reul was elected, Lempp got the job, and later rose to office manager. “Then I realized that you can spend a lifetime working with energy.” She then worked for RWE for more than six years. Today, Lempp is head of Germany for the European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET), an association of 150 energy traders. Lempp campaigns for their interests in Berlin.
Saving energy has never been more important
In the nine years Lempp has worked at EFET, the price of electricity has never been this high. That’s also a problem for power sellers, she explains. Electricity sellers make a good deal, but power companies also have to buy electricity. That becomes a problem. “Cash has to be put behind every deal as collateral, and that ties up capital.”
Nevertheless, she and her association are campaigning against price caps, such as those being called for by Yasmin Fahimi, chairwoman of the German Federation of Trade Unions, and parts of the opposition. This would stop companies from investing. Lempp calls for a state cushioning as well as a fundamental promise to finally implement. “We have to save more energy,” Lempp says. “We’ve all agreed on that since the energy transition, but now it becomes critically important.”
Lempp wants to discuss the emerging energy gap without ideology, meaning Germany should use its coal reserves, CO2 should be captured and stored, and there will be no way around extending the operating lives of the three remaining nuclear power plants if Russia turns off the gas tap. “The next two winters are critical,” Lempp says.
Small fixes, fast alignment
Defending market principles is not easy at the moment, Lempp says. Lobbying is difficult because the decision-makers in politics are nervous and want to cushion prices at all costs. Her association has an advantage here: Internally, the votes among the member companies take place very quickly and everyone suffers from the same problems.
The Berlin team consists of only three people, including Lempp. But that works well because the member companies are also involved and write position papers that can then be quickly voted on. EFET provides politicians with a candid look at the energy market. At the large German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), for example, the network operators also sit at the table, and the positions are then less clear. “I don’t have to bend over backwards,” says Lempp. Tom Schmidtgen