Our research on the Peace River site is interested in energy systems, public perspectives on energy development and the social practices and strategies that residents utilize to influence decisions regarding large-scale energy projects.

First we synthesized current statistics related to energy production and energy potential within the region. Next we used Q Methodology to identify discourses of energy production that are present within a groups of Peace River residents who are involved in local energy-related discussions. This has been merged with data from the other study sites into a national analysis of energy discourses.

Current work addresses the public sphere of energy development, with a focus on the Site C Clean Energy Project in British Columbia.

One branch of this project examines the role of social media and the dynamics and communication and negotiation in the decision-making associated with this large-scale hydro-electric development on the Peace River. Mixed methods are being used, including scouring conventional and social media to create an inventory of the Site C mediaspace, and identify key players. These individuals were then interviewed to explore how their online practices contribute to public deliberation, mediation and opinion-forming.

A second branch is using images and comments extracted from Twitter and Instagram about the proposed Site C headpond and the current Mactaquac headpond, using geographic points and relevant hashtags. The photos will be coded to help us to understand how young people – disproportionate users of those social networks but infrequent participants in public engagement processes – use and feel about those landscapes, and predict how the potential futures of those places may affect those feelings and activities.

Project Report:

Sprague, C. 2014. Energy production and potential in the Peace River Region of Alberta and British Columbia: An environmental scan.