Disputes and litigation

Opposition to the construction of new lines

The projects for constructing new infrastructure entail adverse reactions manifesting the NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome. In these cases, Terna’s stance is one of willingness to seek alternative solutions, even ones that are technically more complex than those originally planned, provided they are compatible with the requirements of security, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of the electricity service.
The pursuit of agreed on solutions requires difficult negotiations and a lot of time. The outcomes are usually positive, but some local opposition may persist during the process and receive media attention, as in the following cases in 2010 and the first few months of 2011. 

  • “Dolo-Camin”: the line was authorized in April 2011 by the Ministry of Economic Developmenti in accordance with the Ministry of the Environment (MATT). In 2010, opposition to the project was expressed by Saonara, a municipality in Padua province, as well as several municipalities along the Brenta River, which want the stretch of line that concerns their respective territories to be buried. The Cat (Committee for the Environment and Local Communities) also protested strongly in favor of a project that would put the line underground. So far, three petitions have been lodged with the Regional Administrative Court (TAR).
  • “Trasversale Veneto”: the line is in the consultation stage. There are many problems with the local communities.The local governments involved (Treviso and Venice Provinces) are in favor of the line. The committees opposing the project are asking that the entire 380-kVi line – which is about 33 km long – be buried.
  • “Redipuglia-Udine Ovest”: the line has been in the authorization stage since December 2008. On July 24, 2009 an inspection was performed with the national EIA technical committee. It is expected that the Ministry of Cultural Assets and Activities (MiBAC) will soon sign the compatibility decree. In 2009 and throughout 2010 there was strong opposition to the project, which provides for the construction of the work as an overhead line. Last summer the controversy was also directed against the campaign that Terna launched in Friuli to inform the people in the communities affected by the project and raise their awareness of the issues.    
  • “Sorgente-Rizziconi”: the work is under construction. After the authorization decree was issued on July 8, 2020 by the Ministry of Economic Development, people in the municipality of Serro carried out protest actions, requesting that the overhead segment “Sorgente-Villafranca”, which passes through Serro, be buried or one of its pylons shifted. This is in spite of the fact that the route of the line is the result of more than 2 years of technical and environmental investigations, which led – in agreement with the Region of Sicily, the Province of Messina, the Municipality of Villafranca, and the other 12 provincial Municipalities concerned – to the definition of an overhead route that combined in the best possible way protection of the environmental, society, and health in full compliance with the limits provided for by the law. The route is the result of a long process of consultation and discussion, beginning in 2004.

    In November 2010 the Municipality of Serro decided to petition the TAR to annul the single authorization issued by the Ministry of Economic Development.
  • “Italy-Montenegro”: the authorization process was begun in December 2009 and is still in progress. The Service Conference held in Rome on November 26, 2010 – with more than 20 parties among ministries and local governments and other institutions – unanimously expressed a favorable opinion. Beginning in March 2010, a protest arose in Pescara against the route of the line. In keeping with the practice it has adopted of discussing from the beginning the routes of its works with the local communities involved, Terna changed the route to meet the expectations of the municipality of Pescara. The Company also paid 5 million euro of compensation in Pescara and 7 million euro in Cepagatti. The result of long discussions with the respective local governments, after which a special protocol was signed, these compensations have nothing to do with those provided for by Law 239/04 regarding power generation plants. Nonetheless, local politically-inspired protests persist.

Preliminary inquiries of the Electricity and Gas Authority

The following two inquiries of potential concern to Terna should be noted.

Service dysfunctions in Sicily in June 2007

Still pending is a fact-finding investigation on the service dysfunctions that occurred in Sicily on June 25 and 26, 2007, which the Authority initiated with its resolution n. 155/2007. Specifically, on June 26, 2007 Terna took anti-blackout measures to avoid loss of control of the system and prevent more critical situations from arising. The electricity distributors consequently carried out planned rotating disconnections of ordinary users. The measure was made necessary by a series of concomitant factors: very high consumption, widespread fires that entailed shutting down several lines to allow them to be extinguished, breakdowns, and failures.    

Preliminary inquiry on unassigned power

With its resolution VIS 16/11 of February 7, 2011, the AEEG ended its inquiry (VIS 171/09), begun in 2009, on the issue of unassigned electric power by imposing a 420,000 euro administrative fine on Terna. The inquiry followed the fact-finding investigation, begun in 2007, regarding anomalies noted in the determination of the lots of electricity withdrawn from the grid and not correctly assigned to dispatching users. With the imposition of the penalty, the AEEG criticized Terna’s conduct for lack of diligence in performing several activities of the transmission and dispatching services for which it is responsible. The AEEG also acknowledged Terna’s proactive conduct in mitigating the negative effects of the improper behavior of other companies providing the electricity service and took the same into account in quantifying the penalty.        

Environmental litigation

Environmental litigation originates from the installation and operation of electrical plants and mainly regards the damage that could ensue from exposure to the electric and magnetic fields generated by power lines. In effect, the Parent Company and its subsidiary TELAT are defendants in a number of civil and administrative proceedings, in which the plaintiffs request that lines be moved or operated in a different way on the basis of alleged harmfulness of the same, even though they were installed in full compliance with the relevant current regulations (Law n. 36 of February 22, 2001 and the Prime Minister’s Decree of July 8, 2003). Only in a very small number of cases have damages been requested for harm to health caused by electro-magnetic fields.
With regard to the decisions that have been handed down, only in sporadic proceedings have rulings been unfavorable to the Parent Company. In any case, the latter have been appealed, with the decisions still pending, but negative outcomes are considered improbable.  

Litigation regarding concessionary activities

As the licensee of the transmission and dispatching services, since November 1, 2005 the Parent Company has been the defendant in several proceedings mainly contesting measures of the AEEG and/or the Ministry of Economic Development and/or Terna itself and regarding these services. Only in the cases in which – in addition to flaws in the contested regulations – the plaintiffs also complain of Terna’s alleged violation of the rules established by the aforesaid authorities has the Company appeared before the court. With regard to this litigation, although the rulings in some proceedings of first and/or second instance annulled the AEEG resolutions and Terna’s consequent measures, negative outcomes for the Company are considered improbable, because these are normally pass-through items, as confirmed by the external lawyers who are assisting Terna in this litigation. As the licensee of the transmission and dispatching services, the Company adopts actions and measures in compliance with the industry Authority’s resolutions, which occasionally are contested, although – in certain conditions – the related financial expenses may be paid by the aforesaid Authority.

Other litigation

Several proceedings are pending regarding the environment and city-planning in connection with the construction and operation of several transmission lines. A negative outcome in these cases could generate unpredictable effects and thus not included in the determination of the “Provision for litigation and sundry risks”.
For a small number of proceedings we cannot at the present time absolutely exclude unfavorable outcomes, whose consequences – in addition to the payment of damages – could consist in, among other things, the expenses connected with modifying lines or the temporary unavailability of the same. In any case, negative outcomes would not compromise the operation of the lines.   

Taking into account also the opinion of the Company’s external lawyers, an examination of the aforesaid litigation leads to the conclusion that negative outcomes are highly unlikely.