Unlocking the potential of smart grids: A partnership to explore policy dimensions

This partnership will build Canadian research capacity around the societal and policy dimensions of smart grids. In particular, it aims to: develop knowledge of the social, economic and political contexts of smart grid development in Canada; build an understanding of different societal perspectives on the emerging smart grid and of the controversies associated with its deployment; develop collaborative interactions among partner organizations and with other interested societal stakeholders to appreciate distinctive perspectives and concerns and to promote joint problem-solving in the smart grid realm; and analyze key public policy challenges related to smart grids, formulate alternative approaches, and provide tools for stakeholders and decision makers.

The project is supported by a Partnership Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Canadian academic researchers

Name Position University

James Meadowcroft (Project Director)

Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration Carleton University
Ian Rowlands (Project Co-Director) Professor, Department of Environment, Resources & Sustainability University of Waterloo
Jonn Axsen Assistant Professor, School of Resource and Environmental Management Simon Fraser University
Maya Jegen Professeure Reguliere, Science Politique Universite du Quebec a Montreal
Geoffrey Lewis Assistant Professor, School of Planning University of Waterloo
Alexandra Mallett Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration Carleton University
Paul Parker Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Management University of Waterloo
Glen Toner Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration Carleton University
Mark Winfield Associate Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies York University

Collaborators: U.S. academic researchers

Name Position University

Tarla Peterson

Professor, Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Texas A&M University
Jennie Stephens David Blittersdorf Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources University of Vermont
Elizabeth Wilson Associate Professor, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs University of Minnesota

Collaborators: Societal partners

  • ENMAX Corporation
  • Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • NSERC Smart Microgird Network
  • Ontario Ministry of Energy
  • Pembina Institute
  • Rodan Energy Solutions Inc.
  • SmartGrid Canada

Final results

As the project enters its final stages, additional papers are reporting upon later-phase activities. For instance, a report on a Leadership Workshop held in November 2015, can be found here (.pdf). And building off of that workshop, an article that was published in August 2016 in Municipal World -- entitled, 'Do We Have The Energy For This? (.pdf)' (by Dane Labonte and Ian H. Rowlands).

Additional papers will be posted in the coming months.

Second workshop held

Partnership researchers again gathered just north of Ottawa in May 2014 for their second workshop. Seven presentations (listed and hyperlinked below) were made; review of progress to date (including published output, also noted below) and discussion of plans for the coming year also took place.

Partnership researchers in May 2014.

Key project outputs to date

Academic conferences papers

  • Maya Jegen and Xavier D. Philion, ‘Are Monopolies and Abundant Renewable Energy Supplies Bad for Smart Grid Development? A Media Analysis of Quebec’s Smart Grid Coverage’, presented at the Annual Meeting for the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), 9-12 October 2013, San Diego, CA, 19 pp.
  • A panel was organized for the Annual Conference of the Canadian Political Science Association of Canada, and it was entitled, ‘Policy and Sustainable Energy Transition: The Case of Smart Grids in Canada’ (29 May 2014, St. Catherine’s, ON). The following papers were presented:

Policy workshops

A workshop was held in Toronto to investigate the prospects for increased electricity connection between the provinces of Ontario and Québec (23 May 2014). The workshop was entitled, ‘Ontario, Quebec and Electricity: Time for a New Relationship?’, and the panelists were Jack Gibbons (Ontario Clean Air Alliance), Pierre-Olivier Pineau (HEC Montreal) and Jack Burkom (Brookfield Energy); Mark Winfield (York University) moderated. The workshop was attended by approximately 80 people (with another 10 watching and listening through the web connection) and received media attention afterwards (John Spears, ‘Boost Quebec-Ontario Hydro Trade, Experts Urge’, The Toronto Star, 23 May 2014; and Jeffrey Simpson, ‘Hydro Imports: When Will the Bulb Go On for Ontario and Quebec?’, The Globe and Mail, 6 June 2014). For related discussions, see Mark Winfield and Pierre Olivier Pineau, 'The Next Step for Ontario's Energy Mix', The Ottawa Citizen, 23 June 2014; and Pierre-Olivier Pineau and Mark Winfield, 'Le Quebec, l'Ontario, l'electricite et les changements climatiques: L'heure de revoir les liens?'.


First workshop held

Partnership researchers gathered just north of Ottawa in May 2013 for their first workshop. Eight presentations (listed and hyperlinked below) were made, and discussions about work for the coming year took place.

Partnership researchers.