Exploring the need for government energy policy-makers to consider social impacts

Exploring the need for government energy policy-makers to consider social impacts

1Jane Wilson, RN*, 2Carmen M Krogh, BScPharm, 3Grace Howell, Med, EdD

1Ontario, Canada
2Independent Health Researcher, 1183 Cormac Road, RR4, Killaloe, Ontario, Canada, K0J 2A0
3Instructor, Social Foundations EDUC 5007, Western University Faculty of Education, Room 1113A, 1137 Western Rd., London, ON N6G 1G7, 519-661-2111 ext. 88619

International Journal of social research

As governments around the world aim to develop and enact policies that promote benefits to the public good, there is an increasing need to identify and acknowledge the social impacts of such policies. In some cases, the social impacts may be unexpected. An example is the social impact related to renewable energy policies, particularly as related to industrial-scale wind power generation. In Ontario, Canada, the push toward large-scale or utility-scale wind power development has resulted in: economic change; social discontent in some affected rural communities; and, concerns about adverse health effects. If the usual avenues of social input to decision-making processes have been removed by legislation, an imposed government policy may result in loss of confidence and, despite the government’s good intentions, may not achieve the intended outcome. While citizens may protest that a policy has inflicted significant social change without consent, some governments may maintain that the overarching goal of environmental benefit outweighs social concerns. This article explores the social impact of wind energy development in Ontario, Canada’s rural communities, and suggests a greater role for social research in informing future policy development.

Keywords: Renewable energy, wind turbines, government policy, informed consent, social impact

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How to cite this article:
Jane Wilson, Carmen M Krogh, Grace Howell. Exploring the need for government energy policy-makers to consider social impacts. International Journal of Social Research, 2017; 1:10.


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