Posted on September 15, 2014 by Tia Lalani

This lecture will help you better understand the dynamics of energy sector siting conflict.

18Sept - Social Sustainability

18Sept – Social Sustainability

Thursday, September 18
12 pm | Epp Conference Room
For more details please contact the ACSRC email: acsrc@ualberta.ca phone: 780-679-1672

The Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities (ACSRC) invites you to a free public lecture* by Dr. Hal Nelson, Research Associate Professor in the Division of Politics and Economics at Claremont Graduate University.
*Support provided by Kule Institute for Advanced Study

Simulating Social Sustainability: Agent-Based Modeling of Energy Infrastructure Projects

Are you interested in the conflict between communities and energy projects?

This lecture will help you better understand the dynamics of energy sector siting conflict; how and why individuals and communities get mobilized to fight against energy projects, and how computational models can simulate socio-political conflict.

If you are interested in the social sciences of urban planning, social psychology, risk sciences, computational modeling, game theory, environmental justice, and energy policy, this is the lecture for you. The topic would be of tremendous interest to oil, gas, and electricity sector professionals, and municipal government representatives with interests in infrastructure siting.

For more details please contact the ACSRC email: acsrc@ualberta.ca phone: 780-679-1672

About In-Site:

In-Site is a decision support system for energy siting stakeholders that simulates the social and political  conflict associated with siting new energy infrastructure. The software fuses geographical information system data with models of stakeholder behavior to make predictions about the location of citizen opposition, and the types of conflict that will arise from a new energy project. The software’s outputs give actionable recommendations for project proponents to mitigate conflict by incorporating community concerns into the project’s design early in the siting process.

In-Site was developed and extensively validated using the US$1.5+ billion Tehachapi Renewables Transmission Project in Southern California, which is the longest transmission line in the U.S. dedicated to transporting renewable electricity. After 10 years of study, it has yet to be energized due to citizen opposition from the wealthy community of Chino Hills that has influenced regulators to order that part of the line be placed underground. Intensive data collection on the project has helped inform the design of the In-Site model. In-Site is applicable to other energy supply technologies including electricity generation and gas and oil pipelines whose negative impacts are relatively localized.

Abstract: Siting new energy infrastructure projects to meet growing demand is becoming increasingly contentious and costly. Dr. Nelson’s September presentation will provide background on the In-Site modelling program (formerly SEMPro), background for key In-Site, LLC personnel, as well as their research agenda. Dr Nelson’s presentation will also explicate the design and results of the In-Site decision support system for energy infrastructure siting. The software helps decision makers reduce infrastructure siting conflicts by identifying key concessions that project sponsors can make that reduce the negative impacts to local communities. This type of decision support system can potentially shorten permitting times and improve economic and environmental outcomes for contentious siting projects. In-Site makes two major contributions to planning decision support by fusing geographical information system data with a multi agent-based model (ABM) of citizen attitude and behavior diffusion to predict the outcomes of permitting decisions and explaining emergent opposition behavior.  In-Site also integrates an ABM with spatial bargaining models of stakeholder and regulatory decision making to simulate the real world complexity of infrastructure permitting.

Bio: Dr. Hal Nelson is an energy consultant, and former member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange where he developed and executed arbitrage and risk management strategies for institutional investors. Dr. Nelson has publications appearing in Energy Policy, The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Land Use Policy, Journal of Public Policy, The Journal of Policy Studies, The Journal of Environment and Development, The Journal of Environmental Planning and Management and other top journals.

Dr. Nelson’s goal is to develop practical solutions to complex social, environmental, political, and economic problems. His research focuses on stakeholder participation and facilitation, simulation modeling, and economic analysis.  Nelson is a principal in the development of the Sustainable Energy Modeling Project (SEMPro), a decision support system that simulates citizen and stakeholder opposition to new energy facilities using GIS, agent-based modeling, and game theory. The software provides decision makers with strategic guidance on building stakeholder consensus to improve both sustainability outcomes and operational efficiencies.


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