This seminar will provide an overview and context to Ontario, Canada's support for renewable energy, namely the Green Energy Act of 2009. The Act's central policy measure is a feed-in tariff that guarantees investors in renewable energy projects a fixed rate of return over 20 year terms. While the Act has encouraged the rapid deployment of wind and solar projects across the province, it has also created significant opposition to renewable infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. I will review the genealogy of this controversy including describing how green energy figured prominently in the October 2011 provincial election.
We will then discuss why previous social science literature suggests this opposition should have been expected, what to expect going forward, and what might have been done to facilitate a less polarized social discussion of the tensions between renewable energy deployment and changes to rural communities.
About the Speaker:
I am a visiting researcher at CSAFE, on sabbatical from my job as an Associate Professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University in Canada. My work and interest lies in understanding policies and actions to prevent climate change, particularly at the interface between technological and social innovation in energy. I am a social scientist but also have a background in engineering and ecology. I normally teach undergraduate courses in environmental & energy science, environmental policy, and sustainability innovation. My research is currently funded by a Canadian National Centre of Excellence, Carbon Management Canada. You can find out more about me from my website: people.trentu.ca/stephenhill
At CSAFE, I hope to deepen my understanding of New Zealand's energy policy so as to compare it with my home province of Ontario. I also plan to undertake some field work on a renewable energy project where there was some controversy. I am excited to be a CSAFE because of the tremendous interdisciplinary connections being made by the researchers here, as well as the strong sense of collaboration and collegiality. It's an exciting place!