The importance of grid extension in Europe has risen in the last decade as a result of an aging grid and the energy transition toward a decarbonized electricity sector. While grid extension is claimed as necessary, stakeholder opposition has slowed down this process. To alleviate this tension, increased stakeholder participation is considered as a solution to increase acceptance. The question of stakeholder empowerment is central to participation and it is assumed that higher levels of empowerment improve planning processes. In this paper, we describe, evaluate and compare the planning processes for very high-voltage transmission lines in France and Norway by means of a document analysis. We operationalize the degree of empowerment in three levels: information, consultation and cooperation. The results reveal low stakeholder empowerment that barely rises above the level of consultation. The evaluation of recent projects entailing innovations to enhance stakeholder participation reveals a trend of increasing empowerment levels, especially in the early phases of the planning procedure, i.e. the discussion about the needs for new lines and about the needs of the affected stakeholders. The results suggest that current planning regulations can benefit from high levels of stakeholder empowerment, especially in the early phases of the planning process.