Our research

What is the purpose of the Positive Energy research?

Positive Energy aims to provide industry, government, regulators, NGOs and communities with concrete, practical methods for reaching social acceptance and support for energy development. To this end, we are taking an active approach to research – we involve stakeholders in research design and ensure that they regularly see the results their contributions are helping to achieve. Our discussion papers, policy briefs and research findings will be posted here, and will inform discussions between participants at an ongoing series of workshops, panels and briefings.

The Role of Public Authorities in Energy Decision-Making

Positive Energy has a research stream on the role of public authorities – policymakers, regulators, Indigenous authorities and municipalities – in energy decision-making. The research has proceeded with the following stages:


Spring 2016: Planning Phase. The research began with a planning workshop for energy leaders in June 2016 at which the discussion paper Public Authorities and Energy Decision Processes: Building Public Confidence by Mike Cleland was released.



Fall 2016-Winter 2017: Mapping the Energy Decision-Making System. This was followed by release of the report System Under Stress: Energy Decision-Making in Canada and the Need for Informed Reform by Mike Cleland and Monica Gattinger).


Spring-Fall 2017: Convening Leaders on Key Stresses in the Energy Decision-Making System. Positive Energy convened  workshops with energy leaders from business, government, Indigenous communities, municipalities, ENGOs and academia on each of three main stresses identified in System Under Stress. At each workshop, a discussion paper was authored by a member of the Positive Energy Research Team.


Who Decides? Balancing and Bridging Local, Indigenous and Broader Societal Interests in Canadian Energy Decision-Making, by Dr. Stewart Fast



From Best Practices to Next Practices: Policy-Regulatory Relations in Energy Decision-Making, by Dr. Stephen Bird



How to Decide – Engagement, Information and Capacity: What Works? by Dr. Louis Simard



Fall 2017: Final synthesis. Each of the discussion papers is being revised in light of the workshops to include concrete recommendations to strengthen public confidence in energy decision-making. A final synthesis paper will ‘roll up’ all of the findings from the discussion papers and include the full suite of recommendations to reform energy decision-making in Canada.

The Role of Local Communities in Energy Project Decision-Making

Positive Energy partnered with the Canada West Foundation to undertake a comprehensive research study on the role of local communities in energy decision-making. The research proceeded in three stages:


Spring 2015: A literature review of social acceptance and trust in energy development, Communities in Perspective: Literature Review of the Dimensions of Social Acceptance for Energy Development and the Role of Trust: by Laura Nourallah.



Fall 2015/Winter 2016: Interviews with two dozen senior energy, environmental and Indigenous leaders assessing their views of challenges to community confidence in energy decision-making. The findings were published in the report, Fair Enough : Assessing Community Confidence in Energy Authorities by Michael Cleland, with Laura Nourallah and Stewart Fast.



Spring 2016-Fall 2016: The research team undertook detailed deep-dive case studies into six communities across the country that experienced energy project decision-making processes for various kinds of energy projects. The research findings were published in the major report A Matter of Trust: The role of communities in energy decision-making by Michael Cleland, with Stephen Bird, Stewart Fast, Laura Nourallah, Shafak Sajid and Louis Simard. 


Separate reports below were prepared for each case study:


Case Study: Eckville and Rimbey, Alberta




Case Study: Kent County and Elsipogtog Nation, New Brunswick




Case Study: Kitimat and Haisla Nation, British Columbia




Case Study: Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, Manitoba




Case Study: Oakville and King Township, Ontario




Case Study: St-Valentin, Québec


Public Opinion Survey Research

Positive Energy has a partnership with Nanos Research, its official pollster. We have undertaken surveys of the general public (see below) and have created an Energy Leaders Panel, comprised of some two thousand energy and environmental leaders across the country from the business, government, ENGO, Indigenous and academic sectors. Research findings from survey research appear below:


National Opinion Survey Results: March 2015



Canadians' Views on Canada's Energy Future: October 2015




Canadians' Views on Canada's Energy Future: October 2017


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