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Smart grid development in Quebec: A review and policy approach

Research paper by MayaJegena, Xavier D.Philionb

Indexed on: 26 Oct '17Published on: 01 Jun '17Published in: Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews



Abstract

What explains the inception, the scope and the political saliency of smart grid development? Illustrating the dynamics of non-agenda-setting, this study reviews the electricity sector in the Canadian province of Quebec. Drawing from Kingdon's multiple streams, we argue that the opening of a policy window that would put smart grid development on the policy agenda has proved elusive. In the problem stream, we show that key actors in Quebec's electricity sector do not link smart grid development to policy problems such as climate change or sustainability. In contrast to other jurisdictions, abundant renewable electricity removes the pressure to substitute fossil with renewable energy and the need for its integration via smart grid. In the policy stream, we show that despite the presence of different ideas about smart grid among experts, the state-owned electric utility dominates the policy monopoly and frames smart grid as a technological fix to upgrade the grid. In the political stream, we observe that the issue has very low salience. Based on media analysis, we show that the public mood is somewhat negative and focuses mostly on the health impacts of smart meters. Another factor is the lack of political entrepreneurs emerging either for or against smart grid deployment. As the three streams do not converge and no policy entrepreneur promotes a broad vision of smart grid that would require fundamental changes in the electricity sector, this review concludes that smart grid in Quebec has developed primarily in the form of a technological, security-focused upgrade.