MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Laura Stephenson

Geographical Areas



The province of Ontario has become Canada's largest wind energy market. This was a result of distinct policies established by the provincial government to encourage renewable energy developments as part of its power supply system. Using distributive justice as a lens, this study aims to clarify how wind energy policy design influences community outcomes for municipalities that host wind turbine projects. Community benefit agreements between municipalities and wind project developers are a prominent tool for distributing financial benefits to local populations and these were used throughout Ontario as part of the wind energy development process. A comparative analysis is undertaken to examine the characteristics of three distinct Ontario policy periods against the measured outcomes of community benefit agreements collected from host municipalities of large wind projects. An increase in use and value of community benefit agreements is observed across all three policy periods. This corresponds with expectations of policy characteristics relating to public and municipal opposition and familiarity of the development process by municipalities. The observed influence was less consistent for characteristics associated with power contract rates, local versus central planning authority, and procurement incentives. The results also quantified the financial contributions of industrial wind turbine projects to local communities on an individual municipal basis. The findings of this study will help understand how policies impact community benefits, can inform future wind energy programs, and creates a reference to increases the transparency of financial contributions from wind energy projects to Ontario municipalities.