Citizen participation in the energy transition
Citizen participation in the energy transition is necessary. It makes citizens feel more involved in what is happening in their region. It also contributes to public support for government decisions. Check out how municipalities can shape citizen participation.
What is a Regional Energy Strategy?
The Regional Energy Strategy (RES) helps to change the standard participation process. The RES is used to fulfil the spatial challenge of energy transition with social engagement. That way, the participation process for citizens can be re-examined. During the process of determination from search areas to concrete locations for renewable energy projects, the spatial impact of the energy transition becomes increasingly visible.
Inspiration sheet for participation processes
How do you shape participation in the regional energy transition? See this handout.
Involve citizens early in the process
A dynamic process approach and an ongoing dialogue with residents can map out citizens' perceptions. From the point of view of the RES process, citizens should be involved in the decision-making process as early as possible. But in practice, parties wonder whether citizens are willing to get involved at this more abstract level and whether they are not then given too much of a governance role.
Inspiration sheet citizen participation helps government
We are researching what role the following aspects play for citizens:
- adherence to location
- local reciprocity
- the history of an area
- citizens' trust in local government
- citizens’ attitude towards renewable energy
On behalf of the Province of Utrecht, the municipalities within the Utrecht RES, Amersfoort region, U16 region, and Food Valley were studied.
The ball in the municipalities' court
Insights and methods are available for municipalities to take on the governing role in citizen participation. This follows from recent national and international scientific insights and practice. Together with consultancy firm TwynstraGudde, we have visualised these lines of action and linked them to a number of lessons. These are listed in the inspiration sheet, which has been designed so that municipalities can work with it from various starting points and levels of knowledge.
Preparation for citizen participation
The inspiration sheet shows, for example, that it is important to clearly allocate responsibilities in the preparation phase. In this way, the needs of each party become clear. Ask yourself in advance how the participation process will affect the decision-making process; for example, how important the city council considers the opinion of its citizens to be.
Multiple methods of participation
Citizen participation is a time-consuming process, which affects how much direction a municipality can exercise in the process. Therefore, use various participation methods and pay attention to involving various target groups. For example, citizens with smaller budgets may benefit from a dialogue on energy poverty. And young people can bring a positive voice to the discussion about the energy transition. Combine the participatory projects that have already been started before the RES or are running in parallel to it.