TenneT -- Grid-Development Initiative Schleswig-Holstein by TenneT

Organization name: 
TenneT, State Government Schleswig-Holstein, District governments/administrations, Municipalities, Associations of power producers
Organization type: 
Primary contact person: 


Project years: 
Overall project context: 

Schleswig-Holstein, the most Northern of the German Länder or states is particularly affected by the German Energiewende, the energy turnaround that includes the phasing out of nuclear power and the switch to renewables, such as large offshore wind parks in the North Sea off the west coast of the state. Currently, communities onshore are thus particularly affected by large transmission grid projects that are needed to bring offshore wind power to large consumption centres in Western and Southern Germany. TenneT, the regional Transmission system operator (TSO), currently develops several extra-high-voltage grid projects in Schleswig-Holstein, among others the Westküstenleitung, a 380kV overhead line (alternating current) along 150km between Brunsbüttel (Hamburg) and Niebüll with four including transformation substations. The Intitiative (i.e. the stakeholder members TenneT, the State Government etc.) chose the Westküstenleitung as a pilot project.

TenneT as well as the State Government of Schleswig-Holstein and district/municipal administrations saw the need to launch a joint initiative for stakeholder dialogue and citizen participation prior to the beginning of official consultation processes during the Permitting stage.

Project stage of engagement: 

The Initiative launched the stakeholder dialogue at an early stage in the project cycle (Project preparation stage) before official consultations in the formal permitting process began. The State Government decided to forgo a formal Spatial planning process and consider all Spatial planning aspects of the project within the frame of the permitting procedure. It was agreed among the participating stakeholders to use the additional time gained by the abstention from an official Spatial planning process for the intensified stakeholder dialogue. Moreover, TenneT agreed to submit its documentation of the stakeholder dialogue as part of the permitting application in order to make the process and decision making behind the concept submitted (especially in terms of routing) transparent to the permitting authority and all affected stakeholders.

Description of relevant activities: 

TenneT (TSO), the State Government of Schleswig-Holstein (regional policy makers) and several district/municipal governments/administrations jointly launched the “Grid-Development Initiative Schleswig-Holstein”. This initiative aims at raising public acceptance through stakeholder dialogue and participation in major grid projects in the State at an early Stage in the project cycle. Thereby, the Initiative hoped to face fewer objections in official consultation procedures in order to accelerate the overall planning and permitting process.A new grid development, the Westküstenleitung, was chosen as a pilot project.

As principle guidelines for the stakeholder dialogues, the members of the Initiative concluded two formal agreements: (1) an “Acceleration Agreement” that outlines the contribution of early stakeholder integration to an overall quicker project implementation and (2) a “Realisation Agreement” that stipulates the detailed stakeholder dialogue activities as well as the commitments of all parties. Both documents were published via the State Government’s website. The Initiative then focused on three phases of stakeholder dialogue in the Project preparation stage, prior to the official permitting process:

(1) The first phase included so-called regional conferences in the four districts/counties affected. It focused on dialogue about the need of the project as well as high-level planning concepts, e.g. broad corridors.

(2) Subsequently, the second phase focused on information events (Town hall meetings) for mayors and citizens at the municipal level. The second phase included stakeholder dialogues on information on the need of the project, the planning and permitting process, route alternatives, search areas for transformation substations – and above all: feedback opportunities for citizens in the affected municipalities.

(3) From October 2013 onwards, before submitting the permitting application for all sections of the project, TenneT– during a third phase – is continuing the dialogue with the affected communities. Activities take place throughout the preferred corridor, both with the municipalities at large and with individual Land owners via direct meetings and public information events like Town hall meetings. TenneT’s goal is to also base the fine-tuning (e.g. regarding pylon positions on private property) on an intensive, even one-on-one dialogue with local stakeholders.

The intended result of the three-phase stakeholder dialogue is to jointly prepare permitting application documents and especially to submit a corridor/route for permitting that is acceptable to a maximum number of local and regional stakeholders.


What worked well: 
  • Process steering and moderation by the State Government as an independent authority (during the first and second phase of the stakeholder dialogue), recognised as “impartial” by all participating stakeholder groups.

  • Close involvement of municipal and district governments into the entire process.

  • All stakeholder groups in the process acknowledged their role, agreed to specific commitments and took responsibility for specific aspects and steps in the grid planning process: policy makers took responsibility for the Energiewende, Permitting authorities took responsibility for the permitting process (e.g. duration, documentation, solutions to local conflicts in planning), TSOs took responsibility for project planning, disseminating information on the current state of planning and discussing planning alternatives with stakeholders).

  • A binding timetable for all stakeholder involvement activities (e.g. milestones) was agreed and adhered to by all stakeholders.

  • TenneT focused on voluntary, early participation before drafting the Spatial planning and permitting applications and before launching legally required consultation activities.

Other key stakeholders involved: 

TenneT cooperated intensively with the Environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. (DUH) during the first and second phase of the stakeholder dialogue. The DUH participated in the information events and gave input both on the dialogue itself as well as on environmental concerns.

During the first phase of the stakeholder dialogue, information events and hearings took place in the four affected district/county parliaments. During these hearings, TenneT gave first information on the need for the project (i.e. especially the connection and transmission of offshore wind power) as well as the general project concept, including technology (AC overhead line) and broad corridor.

During the second phase of the stakeholder dialogue, information events for the general public took place in the affected districts/counties that were especially intended to initiate a dialogue with mayors and ordinary citizens. During these events, citizens were able to give feedback to the route alternatives considered.

Key communications channels used: 

In all phases of the early stakeholder dialogue, the members of the Initiative chose public information events in order to inform and collect feedback from larger local audiences.

During all phases of the early stakeholder dialogue, direct meetings between TenneT and other stakeholders took place. On the one hand, TenneT called such meetings with mayors to jointly identify locations for transformation substations. On the other hand, meetings took place with Land owners to discuss the micro-routing of the overhead line, especially regarding the positions of pylons on private property.

During the third phase of the stakeholder dialogue, TenneT set up a Project information office in Husum, the main city within one planning section, as a go-to location for affected local stakeholders. TenneT promoted the office via its website as a permanent opportunity for obtaining information on the current status of planning and for giving feedback thereto.

Key communications formats used: 

During the information events of the second phase of the stakeholder dialogue, TenneT presented the route alternatives within the broad corridor to the communities affected. Moreover, the Presentation detailed the search areas for transformation substations.

Compensation/mitigation measures: 

In the realm of the Westküstenleitung, TenneT launched another prototype for stakeholder involvement in grid projects – the Bürgeranleihe - Westküstenleitung, a financial stake in the project in the form of a corporate bond for citizens emitted by TenneT. The bond was exclusively offered to citizens in two adjacent districts/counties affected by the project. In the end, only ca. 140 households actually bought the bonds and TenneT acquired less than EUR 1 million in debt finance instead of an envisaged EUR 40 million. In subsequent surveys and workshops that were conducted to identify the primary lessons-learned, a majority of stakeholders stressed nevertheless the arguments in favour of the general idea of financial participation for Adjacent communities, especially the strong potential to raise local public acceptance. Stakeholders pointed to the poor financial structuring of the bond as well as the negative – and often inaccurate – media coverage as the predominant reasons for the overall “flop” of the bond.

Transferability to other Member States: 

Almost all positive takeaways of the pilot project of the Grid-Development Initiative Schleswig-Holstein can be transferred to other Member States of the European Union. This holds true both for the pre-permitting stakeholder dialogue at large as well as individual aspects of stakeholder involvement like the concept of exclusive financial participation for Adjacent communities.