Assessing the Range and Nature of Concord and Conflict in Energy Infrastructure Sitings

Date: 1/1/2018 - 12/31/2019
Principal Researchers: Christopher M. Weible and Tanya Heikkila Student Researchers: Kyu-Dong Park, Sharon Smolinski, Jill Yordy and Jongeun You Location: United States Funding: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Among the key issues associated with energy production and transmission are conflicts among policy actors over the siting of infrastructure. Current research on conflicts around project siting tends to rely on small samples, or on public perceptions of highly contentious siting decisions, possibly constraining knowledge toward the most conflictual sitings and away from sitings marked by concord, and limiting understanding of the variation in types of interactions among policy actors involved in these decisions. The goal of this project is to provide a systematic analysis and explanation of the range of concord and conflict intensities and their sources, characteristics, and effects among policy actors involved in  the siting of solar, wind, and pipeline projects in the U.S. from 2013-2016.

This project will be guided by three objectives.

  • Objective 1. To understand the variation in intensity of policy conflict across solar, wind, and pipeline projects.
  • Objective 2. To provide conceptual and theoretical analysis about the factors that explain the variation in conflict intensity among policy actors using a new theoretical approach called the Policy Conflict Framework.
  • Objective 3. To assess the outputs and outcomes from episodes of concord and conflict related to energy infrastructure siting decisions and to draw practical lessons for practitioner audiences.

This project will proceed in three phases.

  • Phase 1: Identify approved siting of moderate to large scale solar, wind, and pipeline projects in the U.S. from 2013-2016.
  • Phase 2: Collect and analyze new media coverage and twitter posts to assess sources and characteristics of concord and conflict among policy actors per siting project.
  • Phase 3: Interview policy actors and analyze their positions and behaviors for 9 total approved projects (3 for solar, 3 for wind, and 3 for pipeline) that vary from low to high conflict

The expected outcomes of this project are to identify the attributes of the policy actors, the setting (e.g., community makeup) and characteristics of intensity of concord and conflict for the siting of solar, wind, and pipeline projects in the U.S. This information will be used in estimating the markings of concord and conflict of energy infrastructure projects and more effective governance and politics involving energy policy.

Contact Information: Chris Weible ( or Tanya Heikkila (

College of Architecture and Planning

CU Denver

CU Denver Building

1250 14th Street


Denver, CO 80202


CMS Login