Acceptance for the energy transition depends on involving residents affected by it – this is the premise of a recently published legal study by IKEM on behalf of the Bündnis Bürgerenergie (BBEn) and the Deutscher Genossenschafts- und Raiffeisenverband (DGRV). Only if wind and solar parks will only be recognized as a positive development in the regions if they provide a substantial added value for the region. IKEM scientists have therefore developed a nationwide proposal for citizen participation.
Currently, project developers at federal level are only encouraged to financially involve municipalities when constructing wind farms and ground-mounted photovoltaic systems. Some federal states have issued their own regulations for additional citizen participation. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and, most recently, North Rhine-Westphalia, there is an obligation to make citizens an offer to participate in wind farm projects. The regulations vary between these states.
The IKEM study makes a proposal for a nationwide standard based on the regulation from North Rhine-Westphalia, but extended to include ground-mounted photovoltaic systems. The proposal includes the obligation of the project developer to submit a draft participation agreement six months after obtaining secured building rights, following an early exchange with the municipality and existing local society-based energy stakeholders. Following this, the parties are required to negotiate a participation agreement within one year. The agreement must take local circumstances into account as far as possible. If the negotiations are unsuccessful, the developer must instead offer the local citizens 20 percent of the company shares for sale. If the developer violates the participation agreement or the alternative option for participation, the affected municipality can demand a compensatory levy. Citizens’ energy companies as defined in Section 3 no. 15 EEG and citizens’ energy companies that do not comply with Section 3 no. 15 letter c EEG are exempt from the obligation.