Energy Project Decision Systems for Net Zero – Designing for Functionality, Adaptability and Legitimacy

The University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy program uses the convening power of the university to bring together academic researchers and senior decision-makers from industry, government, Indigenous communities, local communities and environmental organizations to determine how to strengthen public confidence in energy decision-making.

Mockup of the report.

The study

A new study from the University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy program explores the relationships within public energy decision systems, specifically between regulators with responsibilities for the approval of resource development and infrastructure, and other actors in energy decision-making in Canada. We examine these relationships through the lens of regulatory independence and, ultimately, effectiveness, via five case studies Canadian energy regulators with diverse structures and mandates.

This report sets out a framework for what makes a public energy decision system effective, what makes regulators more or less independent, and how independence bears on the question of effectiveness. The question of effectiveness rests on three essential elements: functionality (can it get the job done); adaptability (can it evolve with changing circumstances); and legitimacy (can it sustain broad public confidence). These three elements and their constituent parts together produce several tensions or unavoidable tradeoffs. 

Those responsible for designing energy project decision systems for net zero should take careful account of the conclusions and recommendations that emerge from this research.

The study in brief

Read the key findings and their relevance to decision-makers.
Key findings (PDF, 290KB)

Case studies

Media coverage

Related links