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BRIDGES FOR DIALOGUE. Electricity grid expansion on site: The role of municipalities as bridges of dialogue between national planning and local protest

About the project

The municipality is the place where the German government's ambitious expansion targets for the German power grid must be implemented. But this is also where clashes of interests become directly visible, and sometimes these conflicts escalate. Images of citizens' initiatives demonstrating against transmission line projects are present in the media. A completely different actor that often acts with less publicity but nevertheless plays a key role: the municipality. As a collective actor comprising both political and administrative actors, the municipality acts as an interface between federal and state policy on the one hand and local interests and the residents it represents on the other. Line expansion is considered a "bottleneck" in the energy transition. Whether a line construction project can be implemented locally or not often depends on the role played by the municipality in the course of the planning process. Little is known about the central role of municipal actors in line construction, or about the communicative and political tightrope act that municipalities sometimes have to perform in grid expansion. It is precisely in the course of formal and informal public participation, which is so central to planning processes, that interaction processes involving municipalities take place that can have a significant impact on the success - or failure - of a project.

Therefore, the project "Bridges for Dialogue" tries to examine the often contradictory roles that municipalities can play in pipeline expansion. Under the direction of the German Institute of Urban Affairs (difu) and in cooperation with the strategy consulting firm Die Gesprächspartner, staff members of the CURE will spend two years examining which actors, interaction dynamics and discourses structure the conflict arena surrounding grid expansion. CURE is responsible in particular for the qualitative-explorative analysis of a line construction project that has meanwhile been approved but was highly controversial in the planning phase, as well as for a systematic review of the state of international research.

With the involvement of several large transmission system operators, municipal stakeholders and other multipliers, the partners are striving to achieve the following goals:

  • Scientific analysis of the tasks and roles of municipalities in public participation in grid expansion in two case studies.
  • Identification of promoting and inhibiting factors that influence the actions of municipalities in public participation
  • Development of solution concepts to strengthen the cities, municipalities and counties as concrete spaces of grid development

As a result, recommendations will be developed on how municipalities can be strengthened in their roles as "Bridges for Dialogue" in grid expansion. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

Project duration

Project start:
Project end:

Project partner

Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik
Die Gesprächspartner
Die Gesprächspartner

Sponsored by

Third Party Funding
Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi)

Project type

Collaborative Project