To secure electricity supply to consumers, foster Renewable Energy Sources integration and favour an efficient internal electricity market, the European Commission has adopted a recent communication in which European Member States and Transmission System Operators are urged to develop interconnections between national grids.
However, the development of new lines – should they be overhead or underground lines – involves a long and uncertain administrative process in order to find a route and to reach social acceptance.
About 7 years in average are necessary for a new Extra High Voltage
line in France from the project's necessity approval by the Civil Authorities to the line’s commissioning itself.
The Public and local representatives are both involved during the process at different stages. The Public is concerned during a public debate whenever decided by a specific independent agency and during the systematic public inquiry prescribed by the regulatory framework. As for local representatives, a thorough consultation-dialogue is engaged with them during a specific phase of the administrative process, which is called "concertation" in French. Additionally, both the Public and local representatives may be informed or involved in other types of consultation-dialogue whenever necessary.
In spite of this long process supposedly towards a compromise between social acceptance and Public interest, the development of new high voltage lines becomes more and more complex to manage.
Sometimes, grid development is neither understood nor accepted by some of stakeholders.
The aim of this article is to present RTE’s feedback about the French side of the France-Spain interconnection and, notwithstanding the fierce opposition the project has faced, the means of gaining social acceptance for this line, notably the determining involvement of the Power-that-be.