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‘Dead-end’ Austrian town blossoms with green energy

For decades, the Austrian town of Guessing was a forgotten outpost not far from the rusting barbed-wire border of the Iron Curtain.

Now it’s at the edge of a greener frontier: alternative energy. Guessing is the first community in the European Union to cut carbon emissions by more than 90 percent, helping it attract a steady stream of scientists, politicians and eco-tourists.
“This was a dead-end town and now we’re the center of attention,” said Maria Hofer, a lifelong resident, as she bought organic vegetables at a farmer’s market. “It seems like every week we read about new jobs from renewable energy.”

Guessing’s transformation started 15 years ago when, struggling to pay its electricity bill, the town ordered that all public buildings would stop using fossil fuels. Since then, Guessing has fostered a whole renewable energy industry, with 50 companies creating more than 1,000 jobs and producing heat, power and fuels from the sun, sawdust, corn and cooking oil.

Signs reading “Eco-Energy Land” greet people entering the town, located 130 kilometers, or 80 miles, southeast of Vienna. Visitors are as diverse as Scottish farmers, Japanese investors and a delegation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

International Herald Tribune

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