The Terna company owns the Italian national electricity grid and for the renewal of its infrastructures, it undertook paths of dialogue and public participation with local communities. The renewal of the network in the Isarco Valley is an exemplary case.
Problems and Purpose
In the Isarco Valley, from Bolzano to Brenner, the 220 million euro project concerns the demolition of 260 km of power lines and 900 pylons, the rationalization of the power supply to the railway line and the electricity transmission network.
The aim of the project is to upgrade the electricity supply of the railway line along the Brenner axis (Brenner Basistunnel). On 18 June 2018, Terna, RFI and the Autonomous Province of Bolzano signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the power supply of the new high-capacity railway line in the Upper Val di Isarco. The solution proposed by Terna is to integrate the strengthening of the electricity supply for RFI with a vast plan to rationalize the electricity lines in the valley. Public consultation and dialogue was undertaken in order to enable citizens' voices to be heard regarding this planned process.
Background History and Context
Terna was originally "founded in 1999 following the liberalization of the electricity sector, with Enel as the reference shareholder." In implementing the 1999 Legislative Decree 79, "focused on the separation of the NTG from its management (transmission and dispatching activities) according to the model of the so-called Independent System Operator, two companies were set up: Terna, owner of the national transmission network, and the National Transmission Grid Operator." Terna's main activities are rooted in the country's history: in 1962, Law 1943 sanctioned the nationalization of the sector, entrusting Enel with all the phases of the electricity supply chain, which until then had been private. 
The monopoly led to the electrification of the peninsula but the driving force behind changes which have led to the current operating context is the liberalization process promoted by the European Union and aimed at making the management of the network independent. In line with the indications of the United Nations (COP 21) and the European Union, and with the objectives of the Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate (PNIEC), Terna accelerated investments for the development of the national grid with the aim being to encourage the integration of renewable sources and improve the security of the system in favour of the energy transition. The Group also aimed to speed up the renewal of assets to mitigate the risks of service interruptions, improve environmental sustainability and increasingly use network digitization technologies for better operating and maintenance performance. The new corporate strategy, first presented in March 2018, was updated in meetings with investors on March 21, 2019 and March 10, 2020. 
Terna states that they "prioritise solidarity and interaction with local communities through a development model which is geared towards dialogue and increasingly attentive to the needs of the territory".  It is one of the very few large companies that build major works, to publicly declare their own strategy of participatory planning, which aims to involve local communities and citizens at every stage of the elaboration and implementation of electrical works: to Terna,
"listening to the opinions of all the people and institutions involved allows the search for a shared solution in choosing the location of new infrastructures and in modernising existing ones. In this way, we are creating the right conditions to develop and “build” the grid together, thus making it more sustainable and acceptable.
The search for shared solutions entails mediations which are not always easy, in addition to unpredictable time frames. Outcomes are usually positive, but local opposition may persist during the process. In these cases, we are open to researching and finding alternative solutions, even if they prove to be more complex than those originally posited, as long as they are compatible with the general interests of the security, efficiency and affordability of the electricity service. " 
The case of the Val d'Isarco is one of the various dialogue paths that Terna activated in 2019. A map with about twenty interposable placeholders distributed throughout the peninsula is available on the Terna website. In 2018, Terna held 207 meetings with local institutions and 17 public meetings with citizens.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Terna SpA is the owner of the electricity grid and owner of the projects that concern it. Consultation and negotiation with local authorities and authorities are practices that have always distinguished its operating methods. However, it is more recently, with the new corporate strategy presented in May 2018, and the proposed infrastructure renewal plan that followed, that Terna has undertaken an explicit conduct open to dialogue and transparency, which it even defines as "participatory planning". The total investment in Val d'Isarco, reports a local newspaper, is about "220 million euros"  but no figures were recorded on the cost of the work in Terna's communication and neither - although it may seem negligible - on what can be attributed to the communication and dialogue path related to the project itself. Since reports on the meetings are not available, no information is given on Terna's "technicians" present at the meetings and the size of the organizational staff deployed.
The autonomous Province of Bolzano is the territorial body of reference in which the course of 7 meetings took place (following in 6 municipalities). President Arno Kompatscher was repeatedly mentioned as the contact person of the agreement for the start of the route and consequently all the provincial technical staff was involved. The councilor for the environment and energy, Giuliano Vettorato, has also issued statements on the project and its benefits. In fact, the Province is the body that oversees the authorization process (SEA, EIA) which will be started once the dialogue process has been completed and the observations on the so-called feasibility bands have been collected, i.e. the routes that will be affected by underground cables, overhead lines, and technical buildings. He is not involved in the provincial dialogue process.
RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana SpA) is the manager of Italian railway infrastructures. It is involved in the project agreement in the Isarco Valley as its railway lines also require a renewal of the electrical component. However, it was not present at the public meetings with citizens.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Technical coordination table. On 30 October 2018, Terna and the Province of Bolzano initiated a technical coordination table to hear from local administrations and citizens on their various needs, with the overarching aim of identifying design solutions widely shared with the territory. Between November 2018 and July 2019, Terna collected municipalities' feedback and from November 2019 to May 2020, the observations were analyzed and the feasibility ranges further optimized; Furthermore, meetings with single Municipalities that needed further study took place. In total, there were about 40 meetings with local administrations. 
Terna Meets is the title given to the model of public meetings that Terna adopted for public presentations and dialogue with citizens. At the beginning of the process, four meetings were scheduled in four municipalities (Bressanone, Ponte Gardena, Chiusa and Fortezza), to take place in large public spaces (conference centers, municipal halls, infopoints) for wide time slots (respectively from 2.30 pm to 8.30 pm; from 14:30 to 20:00; from 10:30 to 19:00; from 9 to 14:30). During the course of the work, three more meetings were scheduled, because further information was requested in Bressanone, Renon and Barbiano, with even longer hours. Terna declared that the meetings "saw the total participation of almost 900 citizens"  and 150 comments were received. The meetings were publicized with press releases and social channels; a downloadable poster is also available. The participation of experts / technicians from Terna who attended the meetings and provided explanations is not given, nor are other public figures mentioned.
Methods and tools used
A technical table is assumed to be a classic multi-actor meeting between highly articulated and organized subjects, on the one hand public administration (even more than one institution) and on the other a large strategic infrastructure company. The negotiating component, completely legitimate but reserved, may be one of the reasons why this type of meeting continues to be totally closed to the public and transparency. Another thing is the definitive planning documents which do not concern these meetings but which are the result.
Terna Meets is a specific format used by the Terna company (in 2018-2019) for comparison and dialogue with citizens interested in the works / interventions planned, throughout Italy. In the case of the Val d'Isarco, there is no clear schedule of what happened during the wide time slots (6, sometimes 9 hours) in which Terna's technicians were available for clarification. There are photos of the meetings that give the idea of some moments (a conference-style plenary session; small groups around tables with cards: vertical panels in Urban Center style). These are changing, flexible spaces for dialogue, aimed at receiving and welcoming (given the availability of time) a large number of interested parties and at the moment organizing communications based on the number of visitors.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
On 30/10/18, the technical coordination table was set up between Terna and local authorities.
Between November 2018 and July 2019, Terna collected comments and observations from municipal administrations, learning, within the study area, which areas were more or less suitable for hosting the work. This process enabled the identification of feasibility for the route or areas in which to design the new power line. The main criteria for choosing the location were to: 
- follow as much as possible the path of the existing lines that will be removed;
- move away from homes as much as possible;
- avoid restricted areas.
In July and October 2019, the Terna meetings were held; information days dedicated to citizens for the presentation of the feasibility ranges:
- 2/7/19, Bressanone, Forum Culture and Congress Center (14:30 - 20:30).
- 9/7/19 Ponte Gardena, Town Hall (2.30pm to 8pm).
- 10/7/19 Chiusa, Walter room (10.30 - 19)
- 11/7/19 Fortress, Bbt-Infopoint (9-14.30).
3 further meetings were then organized because further insights were requested from the municipalities:
- 10/15/19 Renon, Cultural House in Via Santa Lucia 6 in Auna di Sotto (2.30 - 8.00 pm)
- 10/16/19 Bressanone, first part at the Forum of the episcopal city (11-18 hours); second part in the hamlet of Tiles at the cultural house (20-22 hours).
- 10/17/19 Barbiano, Colma Cultural House (11 am-6pm).
An account of the meetings is not available but the results are. On the website, there was a map with many placeholders relating to the approximately 150 observations. The placeholders have different colours to indicate whether the observation received has been accepted (green); partially accepted and / or requires further study in the design phase (yellow); or "cannot be accepted for technical reasons" (red).
In addition to the observation chart, there were 4 "shared feasibility maps", which indicate the overall route, on which the lines of the individual work routes include: the existing lines, new lines, underground, air, railway, various buildings, the alternative routes with different colours, in vector format on an orthophotographic basis of the territory. This was to be the basis of the final design which would be submitted to the authorization process and therefore to the administrative procedures of the environmental assessments. 
On 22/5/20, the participatory planning phase ended. Terna presented the feasibility ranges to the President of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano and to the Mayors of the Municipalities involved in the work, optimized on the basis of the observations received as part of the technical consultation table and of the Terna Meetings in July and October 2019. 
The Province, the Municipalities, and Terna shared the location of the feasibility ranges, with the variants still open in the Monte Tondo area, as reported in the cartography. Their e-mail was made available to citizens in order to ask Terna for information on the project. 
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Although no reports are given, and it is not possible to detect what type of conflict/opposition the project had generated, it seems that the shared feasibility chart has not been publicly contested and that the path has managed to return a first effective screening.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
An important starting place for a preliminary feasibility project is to discuss it first with the citizens, thinking about the critical aspects and possible alternatives, making the process of drafting the final project and the environmental impact studies and more efficient and faster. The strategic environmental impact assessment process, especially by reducing the risk of blockages, appeals and failures of the authorization process, reduces investment risk.
Transparency was limited here, as seen by missing reports, budgets, names of the technicians, and the composition of the technical meetings. However, the result meets the objectives with presumably very low costs compared to other cases of major works and French or Italian public debate, organized by consultants of specialized companies.
The representation (given the number of participants stated by Terna) seems high, but more quantitative and reliable holding-detection tools (e.g. surveys, citizen assemblies, preferential vote on alternatives) would bring greater checks on the result and greater sharing formalities and deference to the participatory process, with respect to any potentially still possible differences of detail.
 Terna. Terna Incontra la Val d'Isarco: Una Rete sempre più sicura, efficiente e sostenibile. Accessed 5/8/20 from https://www.terna.it/it/progetti-territorio/progetti-incontri-territorio/terna-incontra-val-isarco.
 Terna. Our History. Accessed 5/8/20 fromhttps://www.terna.it/en/about-us/story
 Terna. Listening to Local Communities. Accessed 5/8/20 from https://www.terna.it/en/projects/manage-projects/listening-local-communities
 Terna. https://www.terna.it/it (5/8/20)