German TSO 50Hertz developed a Mobile Citizen’s Office (DialogMobil), intended for public participation and communication purposes. Through the DialogMobil, 50Hertz informs and engages with residents in a direct conversation on the energy transition and planned grid development activities.
Already in 2014, 50Hertz has reached the local population in the direct vicinity of potential corridor routes in mainly rural areas of 50Hertz’s grid area, using a mobile citizen’s office. Since 2016, the DialogMobil has become a continuous part of the public participation approach. The practice can be used for various grid development projects that can benefit from direct dialogue with the public, as well as for other activities (e.g. fairs, internal meetings).
Grid development requires dialogue and a direct exchange with the targeted groups. Participation and information event formats are often diverse, yet for a number of reasons a share of the affected population is not reached via these traditional events.
In addition, as new transmission line projects span over a wide area of a country and across federal states, districts, cities and municipalities, it is challenging to equally inform and involve all stakeholders within the planning area.
For this reason, 50Hertz developed the DialogMobil, a custom-designed van allowing for a comprehensive and flexible information and participation approach with comparably low organisational effort and personnel requirements. With the help of planning documents, visual aids and exhibition pieces, maps and line models available in the DialogMobil, 50Hertz provides easily accessible information both in city hotspots and at the project sites, which can often be found in rural areas with thinly populated small towns. The DialogMobil visits citizens in their daily environment and achieves greater participation of a most relevant target group whose members don’t live close to more central information events.
The DialogMobil was 50Hertz’ pilot project in the EU-funded BESTGRID project (http://www.bestgrid.eu). Five pilot projects tested and evaluated new ways to cooperate and spread information in the field. Partners of the 50Hertz pilot project included 3 German NGOs, Germanwatch, NABU (BirdLife Germany), Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German Environmental Aid).