Policy Makers

What’s in the toolkit for you?: 

As a National or regional policy maker, this toolkit helps you to better engage with your constituents and other stakeholders involved in activities related to grid development projects. As a policy maker, you may be involved in setting the high-level policy decisions that establish the need for grid projects and set their overall direction. Furthermore, given the challenges that different stakeholders may encounter in communicating during a grid development project, you may be able to play an important role in bridging the gap between local groups affected by the development of the grid, and the broader interest in developing the grid. This toolkit can help you identify specific opportunities to engage in the discussion around a specific grid development project, or around grid development projects in general. You can also identify different communications elements that you may encourage other Stakeholders to use, for example encouraging the relevant TSO to hold a Closed-door meeting with a group of engaged local citizens. Grid development projects require effective communication and dialogue among the different Stakeholders to be undertaken effectively. As a national or regional policy maker, you may be particularly well-placed to ensure that that communication and Stakeholder dialogue takes place, and this toolkit is here to support you.

How does the toolkit work?: 

The toolkit is structured along categories of communication and participation elements in the context of power grid projects. These include the different Stakeholders involved, the Project Stages, the communication Channels, the communication Formats and the Content types conveyed. Each of these categories contains several profiles specifying, for example, the different types of Stakeholders or the different project stages. These profiles do not only provide a thorough description but also link the profiles to one another showing how communication elements in the context of grid projects work together. The descriptions are accompanied by questions that help to identify where further, project-specific information is needed. In addition, the toolkit provides several Practice Examples showing how different toolkit elements have proven to work in the frame of real-life grid projects.

How do you make the toolkit work for you?: 

There are two recommended ways for using the toolkit: First, you can directly go to the National/regional policy makers profile where you will find a summary of all aspects related to communication on grid lines, e.g. other Stakeholders, channels or contents, which are relevant for you. Second, you can follow the more detailed explanation below which describes all relevant aspects along the different stages of a grid development project.

Using the toolkit along the project stages

In the following, the toolkit functioning is explained in detail taking the point of view of a national or regional policy maker so that you can make full use of it. The explanation is structured along the different stages of a grid development project. This allows you to identify the project stage that is of most interest to you and directly dive deeper into the respective content. Given that you represent a broad and geographically diverse population, your involvement is likely concentrated in the earlier stages of any one project, when the specific route is still being defined, and before the discussion takes a highly local orientation.

For each project stage, this explanation shall give you hands-on advice on which toolkit elements are potentially most important to you and can best inform your communication activities surrounding grid projects. This brief “walk” through the toolkit will, however, not only state which elements are most important but also tie the elements to one another enhancing the user-friendliness of the toolkit. In the end, this explanation aims to give you as user a detailed suggestion of which communication elements are most important regarding your approach to engaging in the discussion around grid projects and how these elements are interlinked.

Phase 1: Determination of need

National and regional policy makers have a particularly important role to play at the stage Determination of need, when the need for building grid lines is being assessed and defined at the EU-level as well as on the level of the different Member States. You may be directly involved in the deliberations, taking an active role in the hearings and negotiations on the EU-wide Ten Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP) and on the national Network Development Plan that affects your constituency. At the end of the national stages for the Determination of need, the number of grid projects that are to be carried out is fixed and starting and ending points of new grid lines are defined.

Moreover, your role will be to explain, defend and represent large-scale policy decisions that precipitate major extension programs for transmission grid, e.g. such as your country’s shift towards power generation from conventional to renewable energy sources.

National and regional policy makers have a crucial role to play at this stage in building a climate of transparency and trust. You could, for example, seek to bring together high-level Stakeholders such as TSOs, Environmental NGOs, Permitting authorities, Regulators and Power producers to take part in a Roundtable or conferences on the overarching need for grid development projects. You may also consider proactively involving the Media at this stage, as a means to reach your constituents and to explain the need for the future projects.

Phase 2: Project preparation

During the Project preparation phase, the first plans for specific project are being developed and various options for routing and other key choices are being evaluated. At the end of this stage typically several routing alternatives have been developed for the specific grid lines that need to be build according to the results from the Determination of need stage.

This stage will typically determine which of your constituents will be most strongly impacted by the proposed project as potential corridors for the grid project are defined. That said, as it is not sure which specific route the project will take, it is important to strike a balance between engaging with those constituents who may be impacted in the future, and alarming unnecessarily those who will not ultimately be affected.

Phase 3: Spatial planning

At the Spatial planning stage out of the various concrete route alternatives, one appropriate route in the preferred corridor for the specific grid line is being developed. The procedure for the Spatial planning stage can differ significantly depending on the legislations of the respective Member State. Usually, the TSO needs to propose corridor alternatives to the competent Permitting authorities who then have to decide whether one of the alternatives can be chosen.

The definition of specific corridor alternatives at the end of the Project preparation stage usually brings with it a stark increase in public attention to the project. For the first time, the grid lines become a tangible reality to non-expert Stakeholders and local Adjacent communities, their Local policy makers and Land owners who find themselves in one of the corridor alternatives see that there is a likelihood that they are directly affected by the grid projects. This is also the stage when any form of citizen action groups (LCIs) are often founded who then become active as opponents to specific grid lines.

At this stage, National/regional policy makers can help ensure productive dialogue by linking the specific project and its associated impacts, back to the broader and shared interest of grid development. This can mean participating in Town hall meetings, Roundtables, and Closed-door meetings to ensure that this link is clearly and efficiently made. Moreover, it is still important for you to constantly explain and represent the policy decisions that necessitated the project in the first place.

Phase 4: Permitting

At the Permitting stage, the procedure for the approval of the concrete project plan takes place. The goal of this process is to approve a precise route plan for where the newly developed grid line should be built. Depending on regulations specific to each Member State, Permitting authorities or Regulators will start a consultation or a public application conference before or after the application is handed in.

At this stage, the concerns become particularly local and, as such, the involvement of National and regional policy makers may not be necessary and could, in some situations, be counterproductive.

Phase 5: Construction

During the Construction stage, the grid line becomes visible to all Stakeholders. Similarly to the Permitting stage, the involvement of National and regional policy makers may not be necessary and could, in some situations, be counterproductive.

Phase 6: Operation

At the Operation stage, the newly developed grid line is operational and transmits electrical energy. The features of the grid line are not changeable anymore.

Depending on how the grid project went forward, it may be appropriate for the TSO to organising an opening ceremony, at which you could express gratitude to the local citizens and Adjacent communities for their contribution to the broader and shared public interest.