EirGrid and SONI together with the governments, regulators, DSOs, the general public and industry will both lead and underpin the Ireland and Northern Ireland response to climate change in the electricity sector. It is our role to plan and develop the grid for the 2030 renewable ambitions of each jurisdiction.
Engagement For All
For this to happen, EirGrid and SONI need to make an evolutionary shift in how we engage with the public. In the next decade, we will develop very significant amounts of new grid infrastructure. More than ever before, it’s important that we gain the support of individual landowners, their neighbours and the wider communities.
Our public engagement will provide a comprehensive, thoughtful, transparent and inclusive approach. We must listen to those who live near future grid infrastructure. Only with their support will we be able to achieve the scale of change required in the next few short years.
The scale of this challenge is enormous – but the benefits will be immeasurable. In response, EirGrid and SONI are making community engagement and participation part of our core Shaping Our Electricity Future Roadmap.
This will complement and enable our well-established expertise in engineering. Our aim is to develop a cohesive approach that reflects and is framed by the secure transition to a low carbon electricity system – and by the urgent context of climate action. As we improve the way we engage with the public, we must recognise and reconcile the impact of these changes on existing projects.
In the Shaping our Electricity Future roadmap, we have identified a suite of enabling initiatives and activities to support our engagement approach. These initiatives are captured across three key workstreams covering Ireland, Northern Ireland and industry engagement.
- Embed Consultation and engagement toolkit within the Framework for Grid Development – “Putting Communities at the Heart of Grid Development.”
- Regional Energy Citizen’s Assemblies - modelled on Ireland’s Citizens Assembly but at a local level, liaising with Non-Government Organisations and Civil Society as appropriate.
- Follow up with individual local authorities on future grid needs in their area, including Climate Action Regional Offices. Engage more proactively with regional assemblies.
- Partner with schools / a national youth organisation with regional reach to deliver awareness programmes/initiatives on transitioning Ireland to a cleaner greener energy future.
- EirGrid will explore the introduction of a 4th Strand of Community Funding specifically for micro-generation to support landowners and communities in transitioning to a cleaner greener energy future. This strand is in addition to our existing strands on Community / Sustainability / Biodiversity.
- Coordinate and host regional knowledge hub initiatives that support communities with the practical information and tools to commence their community energy journey.
- Develop a knowledge hub for communities to explore topical queries in relation to the grid such as EMF, underground cabling, overhead lines, cost of the grid, how EirGrid is funded, how renewable electricity sources work, smart technologies, operations, sustainability etc.
- Embed SONI’s enhanced 3 Part process and Consultation and engagement toolkit within Northern Ireland project delivery – “Putting Communities at the Heart of Grid Development.”
- Subject to regulatory approval, engage elected representatives CEOs, Planning officials – complete a biennial cycle of council engagement on key topics and how we engage. Including annual workshop with council planners and regular updates to SOLACE. Supported by colleagues in NIE Networks as appropriate.
- Develop a knowledge hub for communities to explore topical queries in relation to the grid such as EMF, underground cabling, overhead lines, cost of the grid, how SONI is funded, how wind energy works etc.
- Establishment of and subsequent regular hosting of a Shaping Our Electricity Future Advisory Council.
- Coordinate regular Shaping Our Electricity Future Industry forums
For further information on our engagement approach for Shaping our Electricity Future Roadmap and broader engagement, please see the following: