Monday, 25 April 2016

Institutional factors influencing strategic decision-making in energy policy; a case study of wind energy in France and Quebec (Canada)


This article studies the different institutional factors that influence a strategic wind energy decision-making process through a comparative transnational study of Quebec (Canada) and France. Research confirms that political choices are dynamic and vary with a change in the wind energy context, the balance of power between pressure groups, supranational influences, energy evaluation approaches and social acceptance. Until the 90׳s, an initially unfavorable national energy context, combined with a neocorporatist culture, as defined by Szarka (2004) [1], limited the place of wind energy in both jurisdictions. In the 2000׳s, a political window opened when the private sector penetrated the market with the deregulation of the electricity sector, exogenous pressure from the European Union in France, endogenous pressure from social actions in Quebec, and a more favorable energy context in both cases. However, this political window was short-lived due to social acceptance issues. In Quebec, political will was stronger until 2013. Now, the social controversy surrounding wind energy has shifted from the local to the national level. Projects are better accepted locally because of local financial involvement, but an anticipated electricity surplus questions the relevance of new energy projects. In France, political support depends on the government in power. Between 2005 and 2013, the reduction in annual wind power installations from 1246 MW to 621 MW was due to the major influence of the anti-wind lobby on a right-wing government. After 2013, the left-wing government׳s arrival coincided with a phasing out of several regulatory and financial uncertainties. Today, both jurisdictions are at a crossroads and the future energy mix will depend on the relative influence of the institutional components identified. In our opinion, key solutions to more sustainable political choices are conditioned by an improvement in the way projects and policies, plans and programs are assessed.


  • BAPE, Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (Public Hearing Office for Environment);
  • CC, Climate Change;
  • CE, conventional energy;
  • CT, Call for Tenders;
  • CRÉ, Conférence Régionale des Élus (Québec) (Regional Elected Representatives Conference);
  • CSPE, Contribution au Service Public de l’Électricité (Contribution to Electricity Public Sevice);
  • EDF, Électricité de France;
  • EPR, new generation of nuclear plant;
  • EP, energy policy;
  • EU, European Union;
  • FIT, Feed In Tariff;
  • GHG, Greenhouse Gas;
  • HQ, Hydro-Québec;
  • HQD, Hydro-Québec Distribution;
  • ICPE, Installations Classées Pour l’Environnement (Classified Installations for Environment);
  • LA, local acceptance;
  • MRC, Municipalité Régionale de Comté Comté (Regional County Municipality);
  • PÉEIE, Procédure d’évaluation et d’examen des impacts sur l’environnement (Evaluation Process and Review of Environmental Impacts);
  • PPP, politics, plans, and programs;
  • RCI, Règlements de Contrôle Intérimaire (Interim Control Regulations);
  • RE, renewable energy;
  • RTE, Réseau de transport d’électricité (Transmission Grid Network);
  • SA, social acceptance;
  • SEF, Sustainable Environment Federation;
  • SRCAE, Schémas Régionaux Air, Énergie, Climat (Regional Patterns Air, Energy, Climate);
  • SRÉ, Schémas Régionaux Éolien (Regional Patterns Wind Energy)


  • Energy policy;
  • Decision-making;
  • Wind energy;
  • France;
  • Quebec;
  • Social acceptance
Corresponding author at: Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR), 300 Allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, Quebec, Canada G5L3A1. Tel.: +1 418 723 1880x2597.
Tel.: +1 418 723 1986x1460.
Tel.: +33 546458239.
Tel. : +1 418 368 4380.