Canada’s energy-decision systems are under stress — uOttawa Report

Posted on Monday, March 27, 2017

 Energy Decision-Making in Canada and the Need for Informed Reform


Canada’s energy decision-making process is not well suited to the challenges ahead, says a report released today by the University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy project.

The report, System Under Stress: Energy Decision-Making in Canada and the Need for Informed Reform, examines core stress points in Canada’s energy landscape and suggests a way forward.

“Our research finds that reform has to be about the whole system,” said co-author Michael Cleland, Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa. “Reform isn’t about ‘fixes’ to a few energy regulators. We have to include policy and planning bodies as well as regulatory bodies that decide on projects, protect the environment, and ensure fair prices and adequate returns for power systems and pipelines.”

Co-author Monica Gattinger, University of Ottawa professor and Chair of the Positive Energy project, outlines three urgent priorities in Canadian energy decision making:

Priority 1: The relationship between policymakers and regulators

Examine the relationship between policymakers and regulators, particularly regarding big policy questions like climate change, the effects of multiple energy projects, and the role of Indigenous peoples in energy decisions.

Priority 2: The role of local authorities

Think differently about the role of local authorities in energy decision-making, beginning with Indigenous communities who want energy development done sustainably and with real inclusion in decision-making and projects, as well as municipal governments concerned about meeting local energy needs with both local and imported resources.

Priority 3: The role of citizens

Rethink how we think about the role of citizens in energy decision. How do we ensure that citizens have access to the information needed to make informed judgements?

Gattinger emphasizes that these pivotal questions require rethinking the entire system. “A more systematic, comprehensive approach is both possible and necessary – we need informed reform,” she said. “Modernizing the system is essential if we are to come even close to meeting the challenges of the decades ahead.”

Positive Energy project

The University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy project uses the convening power of the University to bring together experts and key decision-makers from academia, industry, government, Indigenous communities, local communities and environmental NGOs to determine how energy resources can be developed in ways that garner social acceptance.

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