Saskatchewan

Majority of Regina residents support goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050, U of R survey suggests

The survey of of 451 Regina residents looked at three ways the renewable energy target can be defined, including a focus on powering the city's assets, like city vehicles and buildings, with renewable energy

'At least on this target, it seems like there's pretty strong agreement, says report author

Regina has a lot of solar and wind potential, according to the report. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

A new survey from the University of Regina suggests the majority of Regina residents would support a city goal of being "100 per cent renewable" in its energy use by 2050. 

Brett Dolter, an assistant professor in the University of Regina's economics department, said some of the results of the survey results even surprised him. 

"I was interested to see the level of support for the targets and how, even when we're asking about the broader target of the whole city — including all private vehicles and buildings being [powered by] renewable [energy] by 2050 —  there was still majority support," he said. 

The survey, conducted last year, looked at three ways to define the city's target of hitting 100 per cent renewable energy use by 2050— which city council voted in favour of in 2018.

The first option focused on powering the city's assets, like city vehicles and buildings, with renewable energy. 

Option two was ensuring that enough energy is produced renewably to cover the city's electricity needs, including for homes and businesses. 

The third option would see all energy in the city produced renewably — including energy for private vehicles, homes and businesses.

Among survey respondents, 64 per cent said they would support that third option, while 74 per cent support the first.

"I thought there might be polarization and a real split of opinions in terms of what people think about Regina's energy future," said Dolter, "but at least on this target, it seems like there's pretty strong agreement.

"[There's] less than 15 per cent who disagree with this city-wide target of 100 per cent renewable by 2050."

The survey had a sample size of 451 Regina residents. It was conducted by the company Prairie Research Associates through landlines and cellphones between August and September of 2019.

Will people pay?

One question on the survey also asked residents if they would be open to paying more on their property taxes to fund the renewable energy target.

"Combined, 64.3 per cent of respondents would either be willing to pay more or would be willing to consider paying more on their property taxes to encourage renewable energy in Regina," Dolter's report said.

Thirty-three per cent said they would not support a property tax hike to support the target, and 2.5 per cent said they weren't sure.

The report also notes Regina's strong potential as a generator for both wind and solar energy.

Dolter's report was not commissioned by the city, but done independently through his own research and presented to the city's priorities and planning committee.

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