Coordination with regional authorities

Coordination with regional authorities

The construction of new lines satisfies technical requirements of the Electricity System - such as solving congestion and eliminating the risk of overload - and meets the increased energy demand that accompanies economic growth in specific areas or in the country as a whole. Hence, grid developmentWorks on the electricity grid which lead to the adjustment or upgrading of the transport, transformation,connection and interconnection capacity, or an increase in operating flexibility of the grid, or the removal ofgrid elements. is in the general interests of society; conversely, the environmental impact linked to the actual implementation of new power lines - especially the visual and landscape aspects - is instead concentrated in the area affected by the route taken by the line. The population density of many parts of Italy and the cultural-artistic and landscape value of many other areas increase the complexity of planningDefinition of the usage plans, for a specific period of time, for the available means of production andtransmission, in order to satisfy the energy requirements with respect to quality and continuity of service. and the difficulties in implementation.

Through dialogue with local institutions, Terna seeks sound solutions which allow for the preservation of the environmental and cultural heritage and potential of the area where new developments of the Electricity System are to be located.

As of 2002, Terna opened an entirely new scenario in building infrastructures in Italy. In the procedure that until then was followed, dialogue with the institutions was only established during the authorization phase, in which the planning of the infrastructure had already reached the implementation phase. Even the consideration of interferences with the natural environment occurred only during this phase, through an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This approach led to strong opposition on the part of the local institutions involved and of the population in the areas with the result that the original project was often modified and time frames became very lengthy. In certain cases, it was impossible to find a feasible solution.

Terna's choice was to advance the dialogue phase with the bodies within the territory to the strategic planning phase of the works to be implemented - building new electricity lines and substations - included in the Development Plan. The methods used included opening dialogue in advance with the institutions and public administrations at various levels (Regions, Provinces, Municipalities), based on shared criteria for examining the territory and for identifying the best possible locations for the new installations. Terna's approach involved voluntarily applying elements typical to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), at the time the subject of an EU Directive (Directive 42/2001/EU) that was to be adopted by the Italian legislation only many years later.

The choice of creating the SEA method for building a planning process that was to be transparent, substantiated, traceable and shared was integrated by the agreements with Regional and Local Bodies into Memorandums of Understanding and of Agreement to formally establish each time the progress of mutual commitments. Since 2002, Terna reached agreements on the experimental application of the SEA with a growing number of Regions (presently 13 including the Autonomous Province of Trento).

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Over the years, Terna's experimentation with the SEA procedure has changed considerably, as a result of wide-ranging and profitable cooperation between the parties.

The methodological model for applying the SEA procedure to the NTG development is being defined at different levels within the dialogue process:

  • at the strategic level, once the electricity gridA group of plants, lines and stations for transferring electrical energy and supplying the necessary ancillary services. transmissionElectricity transport and transformation activities along the interconnected high- and very high-voltage grid forthe purposes of delivery to customers, distributors, and recipients of self-produced energy. requirements have been identified, the possible alternative solutions that are to be planned at national, regional and provincial level are defined;
  • at the structural level, after definition of the strategic alternative to the construction works to be carried out, it is possible to identify potential corridors (portions of landscape), at regional and provincial level, that are suitable for hosting the planned works;
  • at the implementation level, within the corridor identified, details of alternative solutions are defined for the planned systems, such as the feasibility zones of the route that will host the new power lines, connections or new stations, and implementation-related decisions are taken, such as those involving identification of preferred electricity pylons or the use of cable solutions.

In Terna's experimental use of the SEA to date, one of the most effective tools for supporting shared decisions as well as analyzing the landscape to select the alternatives with least impact is the ERPA criteria.
The landscape to be studied can be categorized according to criteria that express its greater or lesser suitability for hosting the various works. Terna and the various regional authorities agreed on a system of criteria based on four classes:.

  • exclusion: areas where any construction is prevented;
  • rejection: areas that, preferably, should not be affected by measures, unless there is no alternative or the only alternatives have lower environmental compatibility, and in any case in compliance with agreed provisions;
  • problematic nature: areas where crossing is difficult for objective reasons, proven by the Bodies involved and which therefore require further analysis. This analysis establishes whether the level of criticality can be overcome, subject to compliance with the provisions agreed with the Bodies, or whether it is necessary to identify other alternatives. Unlike other criteria, this is characterized by the necessity for investigation and by the absence of an automatic early assessment mechanism;
  • attraction: areas to be preferred whenever possible, subject to prior verification of the landscape's load capacity.

Each class of the ERPA criteria has several categories. Currently, the Exclusion criterion includes the areas recognized by legislation as areas of absolute exclusion, e.g. airports and military areas (E1), and areas not directly excluded by legislation but which are restricted based on criteria agreed in advance between Terna and the Bodies involved (E2). For example, this category includes areas that are continually urban, for which, pursuant to the Italian Law no. 36/2001 which introduces the concept of a buffer zone to protect the population from the effects of electromagnetic fields, it has been jointly decided to adopt a maximum protection approach.
The Rejection criterion covers: areas that can be considered only in the absence of alternatives (R1), natural areas covered by protection constraints at regional level, for which specific agreements are established (R2), and areas to be considered only if no alternative exists with a better environmental compatibility (R3).
The Attraction criterion covers: areas with good landscape compatibility (A1) and areas already environmentally compromised and more adapted to the implementation of the project, such as infrastructural and energy corridors, but at the same time bearing in mind the landscape's load capacity (A2).

Highlight: The sea within the italian legislation

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