Socioeconomic Aspects of Tidal Power Generation: The Social and Community Development Component


115 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88926-024-9




Reviewed by Peter Victor

Peter Victor was Associate Professor with the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Downsview, Ontario.


The prospects of large quantities of electric power from a cost-competitive source that does not adversely affect the natural or social environments is enormously exciting in an energy-hungry world. Tidal power generation is seen by some in this light, and the Bay of Fundy is one of the world’s best sites for a large-scale development of this kind. This study focuses on the social and community development impacts of harnessing power from the tides of the Bay of Fundy. It is part of a large research effort directed at assessing the overall feasibility and desirability of an offshore hydro megaproject. In particular, the study seeks to identify the social factors that may be: 1) key considerations in reaching a decision about any particular project; and 2) important considerations in planning any project because of the costs and benefits their impact has on communities and people in the area.

The authors proceed in the now-standard mode of social impact analysis by considering the following social factors: demographic, employment and income, public services (schools, hospitals, housing, etc.), and community attitudes to development.

They conclude that the socioeconomic impacts vary widely according to site and starting point, and that the social benefits and costs must be measured initially to facilitate site selection and must be monitored during the construction phase in order to facilitate socioeconomic planning.

This study suffers from both too much and too little quantification. It is replete with tables and statistics, which are fine for summarizing farm areas and population densities. However, they do tend to obscure the truly human element involved in community disruption. On the other hand, the attempt to determine attitudes toward development by interviewing “a few key informants” and “reading newspaper reports and editorials” falls short of what might be learned from a systematic survey of the population. In the end, the authors resort to a ranking of alternative sites using judgment expressed as number.

This study is an example of socioeconomic impact analysis in its still early stages of development. Of its kind it is not at all bad, and it should be useful in deciding whether and how to proceed with tidal power developments at the Bay of Fundy.


Harvey, Andrew S., W. Stephen Macdonald, and K. Scott Wood, “Socioeconomic Aspects of Tidal Power Generation: The Social and Community Development Component,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,