Perspective

Lessons learned from Ontario wind energy disputes

  • Nature Energy 1, Article number: 15028 (2016)
  • doi:10.1038/nenergy.2015.28
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Abstract

Issues concerning the social acceptance of wind energy are major challenges for policy-makers, communities and wind developers. They also impact the legitimacy of societal decisions to pursue wind energy. Here we set out to identify and assess the factors that lead to wind energy disputes in Ontario, Canada, a region of the world that has experienced a rapid increase in the development of wind energy. Based on our expertise as a group comprising social scientists, a community representative and a wind industry advocate engaged in the Ontario wind energy situation, we explore and suggest recommendations based on four key factors: socially mediated health concerns, the distribution of financial benefits, lack of meaningful engagement and failure to treat landscape concerns seriously. Ontario's recent change from a feed-in-tariff-based renewable electricity procurement process to a competitive bid process, albeit with more attention to community engagement, will only partially address these concerns.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa, Desmarais Building, 55 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5, Canada.

    • Stewart Fast
  2. Department of Geography, 68 University Avenue, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada.

    • Warren Mabee
  3. Department of Geography, Social Science Centre, Western University, 1151 Richmond Street, London, Ontario N6A 5C2, Canada.

    • Jamie Baxter
  4. Ontario Research Chair in Renewable Energy Technologies and Health, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada.

    • Tanya Christidis
  5. School of Planning, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada.

    • Tanya Christidis
  6. Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, PO Box 173, Milford, Ontario K0K 2P0, Canada.

    • Liz Driver
  7. Campbell House Museum, Toronto 160 Queen Street West, Ontario M5H 3H3, Canada.

    • Liz Driver
  8. School of Environment, Trent University, 1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7B8, Canada.

    • Stephen Hill
  9. Department of Social Science, Business and Society Program, York University, 4700 Keele Street Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada.

    • J. J. McMurtry
  10. Renewable Energy Community Relations and Communications Strategist, 3-293 Mowat Avenue, Kingston, Ontario K7M 1L2, Canada.

    • Melody Tomkow

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stewart Fast.