This article employs the multi-level perspective on socio-technical transitions to explore the historical evolution of the electricity regime in the province of Ontario from 1885-2013 and to interpret the potential for future movement towards decarbonization. With an emphasis on the political and social dimensions of transitions, this analysis traces the key features influencing change within Ontario's electricity system over the past century. This paper uses multiple criteria (the phase of electrification; role of the electricity system in economic development; structures of ownership, market and regulation; dominant technologies; and the relative stability of arrangements) to characterize distinct regime configurations and periods of instability which separate relatively stable system orientations. Lessons are drawn from the historical case with implications for future decarbonization in the province, including the importance of: (1) residual momentum; (2) embedded guiding principles; and, (3) politico-economic coalitions.

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Keywords Decarbonization, Energy transitions, Multi-level perspective, Ontario electricity system
Persistent URL
Journal Energy Policy
Rosenbloom, D. (Daniel), & Meadowcroft, J. (2014). The journey towards decarbonization: Exploring socio-technical transitions in the electricity sector in the province of Ontario (1885-2013) and potential low-carbon pathways. Energy Policy, 65, 670–679. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2013.09.039