Green Power Scores Lowest as Option for Electricity in Ontario Poll

Green energy scores very low as an option for future electricity supply in Ontario, according to 7,864 respondents to an online poll conducted by the provincial government.

Green energy is the least important option for Ontario's future electricity supply, according to thousands of residents in an online poll conducted by the provincial government.

Wind and solar generated 5% of Ontario's energy in 2012, while nuclear provided 53%, hydro 21%, 13% from natural gas, 3% from coal and 5% from conservation, according to background data contained in the province's Long-Term Energy Plan released late last year.

As part of the development of the LTEP, the Ontario energy department conducted a public online survey of opinions and priorities from citizens regarding the future of electricity system. It asked what guidelines the province should use for its future mix of energy sources and collected 7,864 responses from July to September.

Respondents were asked to prioritize seven options, including nuclear, natural gas or green energy (eg: solar or wind) as the best option for the province. Answers also offered "the lowest-cost source should be our first priority" and "the supply mix is fine as it is," to "need to focus more on conservation" or "continue to reduce emissions beyond eliminating coal."

Of total respondents, 4,526 rated nuclear as their top option, while 881 said Ontario should continue to reduce emissions beyond eliminating coal. In third place, 865 people said the lowest-cost source should be first priority, and 641 want a higher focus on conservation. Only 560 rated green energy as their top option, ahead of 217 for natural gas and 173 who said the current supply mix is fine.

Green energy collected the largest number of last-place (#7) choices at 4,487, five times more than any of the other six options.

When the responses are weighted (7 points assigned to each top choice, 6 points for each second choice, 5 points for each third choice, down to 1 point for each seventh choice), green energy scores lowest with 18,188, followed by 23,159 points for natural gas, 27,287 for the status quo, 32,333 for more focus on conservation, 35,625 for the lowest-cost source as priority, 39,238 for continuing to reduce emissions beyond eliminating coal and 44,345 points for nuclear power as the best option.

The online survey was not scientific and the LTEP includes hydro-electricity and bioenergy in most of its descriptions of green energy. The province does not include any thermal energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar thermal) in the Plan although 80% of the province's residential sector and 60% of the commercial-institutional sector is for thermal energy as opposed to electric.

The survey responses are available for download here: