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The public dialogue on the electricity grid has been encouraging debate about grid expansion in Germany for the last year. And the work is continuing this year with local events and discussion forums about grid expansion.

Public dialogue on the electricity grid© Bürgerdialog Stromnetz

If electricity is to get through to where it is needed, reliably and throughout the country, the electricity grid needs to keep pace with the expansion of renewable energy installations. After all, the power being generated by increasing numbers of wind turbines and solar installations needs to reach the plug socket. A massive task – and a highly sensitive issue. Because when it comes to new powerlines, opinions tend to clash, and different interests need careful weighing up.

Having your say on the expansion of the grid

The public dialogue on the electricity grid has been encouraging debate between stakeholders, interested parties and critics of various grid projects across Germany for the last year. Over the last twelve months, more than 30 discussion events were held – some for small groups, some as special workshops, and some as major public conferences. Very practical issues were debated: questions about the need for new powerlines, about legislation, health, technology and the local residential environment. More than 600 people attended the discussion events – interested members of the public, experts and representatives of local and regional government.

Citizens’ offices from the North Sea coast down to Bavaria

Ten citizens’ offices from the North Sea coast down to Bavaria also provide information about the grid projects in the regions. They are based in Stade, Quakenbrück, Hannover, Magdeburg, Fulda, Kassel, Krefeld, Erfurt, Nuremberg and Regensburg. During the regular office hours, the staff answer questions about planning procedures and the progress of local projects, and the respective responsibilities of municipal authorities and transmission system operators. Also, the regional managers talk to critics of grid expansion and build up networks in order to foster a dialogue at municipal, regional and Länder level.

At the same time, a dialogue-mobile is touring Germany. It has already covered more than 10,000 kilometres and provided information about grid expansion in more than 100 towns and cities.

The local services are backed up by a central hotline and online office. Also, conflict resolution procedures and mediation can be offered to project managers, citizens’ initiatives and interested parties.

The dialogue is continuing in 2016

This year again, the public dialogue on the electricity grid is travelling around the entire country. Over the next few months, it aims to expand its communication work and continue to explain just how crucial the grid expansion is for the development of renewable energy and the success of the energy transition.

This summer, the public dialogue on the electricity grid will be holding a series of events around southern Germany.

From the autumn it will be covering the future north-south electricity highways. At the end of September, a major conference for young people will be held in Berlin, to help tomorrow’s citizens understand various aspects of the energy transition.

At the end of 2015, new policies were rolled out for new “ultra-high voltage direct current transmission lines”. The Federal Requirements Plan Act provides that these north-south electricity highways are to be primarily placed underground. This means that various routes (e.g. “Suedlink”, “Gleichstrompassage Süd-Ost”) need to be re-planned. The public dialogue on the electricity grid will continue to support the future planning process with a large number of information and dialogue events.