Smart grid technologies are an important dimension of electricity system change and governments have been actively involved in their diffusion in a number of jurisdictions. Deployment rates for technologies involving the public have varied, despite governments pursuing similar policies/programs and implementing comparable technologies, such as smart meters. An important question is why. Examining smart grids in the media can be helpful in understanding these differences. Media coverage represents a means through which to gauge how issues are being framed, which can in turn influence public perceptions of these technologies. We examine media coverage of smart grids in national-level Canadian newspapers over time to explore how often and what aspects of smart grids are emphasized within this context. We found that while initially more positive aspects of smart grids were highlighted, over time media coverage of smart grid technologies and deployment programs became more negative. This suggests that people's perceptions of technologies are likely entwined with the processes in which people become exposed to them - negative experiences with the implementation programs often correlated to negative perceptions of technologies. We also found that negative technology and program attributes were more pronounced in certain regions of Canada versus others despite embarking upon similar policies and programs aimed at advancing smart grids (introducing smart meters). In addition, the specific risks and benefits differed, depending on the sub-national geographic setting. Thus, in designing and executing policies, decision makers ought to be cognizant of issue framing and which ones will resonate more within their local context. As smart grid proponents seek to introduce a further array of technologies into societies, we suggest that they concurrently carefully consider the channels in which people become exposed to and experience these technologies.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Canada, Framing, Media coverage, Smart grids
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2017.06.013
Journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Citation
Mallett, A, Jegen, M. (Maya), Philion, X.D. (Xavier D.), Reiber, R. (Ryan), & Rosenbloom, D. (Daniel). (2017). Smart grid framing through coverage in the Canadian media: Technologies coupled with experiences. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2017.06.013