Ontario Votes 2014·THE ISSUES

Ontario election 2014: Vote Compass users reveal split on wind power

According to Vote Compass respondents, solar, hydro and wind energy should be significant sources of Ontario’s electricity supply mix. But there is a wide gap in support for wind power between PC supporters and supporters of the other major parties.
Vote Compass users overall say wind energy should be a significant source of Ontario’s electricity supply mix - but that view is not shared by respondents who identified as supporters of the Progressive Conservatives. (J.P. Moczulski/Reuters)

Ontario's parties have put forward proposals aimed at curbing soaring power bills and spent time in Tuesday's leaders debate on the trade-offs between developing alternative sources of energy and keeping prices to business and individuals down.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has said he would also cut "bloated" bureaucracy at Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation.

Hudak also pledged to end subsidies for wind and solar power, two key moves made by former premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals.

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath has promised to get rid of the provincial portion of HST on hydro bills if she becomes premier. It's a move she said would save homeowners about $120 a year.

Early in this campaign, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne said recent hydro increases have been caused, in part, because the government had to make massive investments to upgrade Ontario's electricity system.

"There's a cost associated with that, and so we are working to make sure that there are programs and supports in place for people who are struggling to pay for their electricity," she said. "But are we going to back away from clean, renewable energy? No, we're not going to do that."

Vote Compass users weigh in

Asked for their views on which mix of energy sources should form a significant part of Ontario’s electricity supply, users of CBC’s Vote Compass most frequently chose solar, hydro, and wind. Support narrowed however when investment in wind and solar included the prospect of higher electricity prices.

But wind power was the most polarizing choice between each party’s supporters.

Among those who identified themselves as Progressive Conservative, only 31 per cent said that wind should be a significant part of Ontario’s energy mix. This compares with 60 per cent of Green supporters, 57 per cent of Liberals, and 55 per cent of NDP supporters. Only bioenergy and coal were supported less than wind among Conservatives, who showed support most frequently for hydro and nuclear power.

Chart: Which sources of energy should be a significant source of Ontario’s electricity supply mix. (Mobile users can view the chart here)

When asked about how they felt about the statement, “should Ontario build more wind farms,” 51 per cent of all respondents agreed. Thirty per cent of PCs agreed while 55 per cent disagreed.

In its platform, the NDP chose to focus on solar energy. It wants to help families install solar panels and make energy efficient retrofits.

The party says it will create a revolving fund that would provide homeowners with loans for energy efficient retrofits and the installation of solar panels, which are paid back through energy savings.

No dollar amount is attached to the fund in the party platform.

Chart: Ontario should invest in wind and solar power, even if it means higher electricity prices (Mobile users can view the chart here)

Vote Compass users were also asked about support for investment in wind and solar power if meant higher electricity prices, and respondents were split on the issue. Forty-three per cent of respondents supported the idea, while 41 per cent were opposed and 14 per cent were neutral.

Younger respondents were more likely to support wind and solar investments at the cost of higher prices than older respondents, as were Liberal, NDP and Green Party supporters. PC supporters were overwhelmingly opposed, with 66 per cent disagreeing with the idea.

Chart: Should Ontario build more wind farms (Mobile users can view the chart here)

More Vote Compass users also generally support increasing rather than decreasing nuclear energy.

When asked "how much of Ontario’s energy should come from nuclear power," 41 per cent said more while 21 per cent said less.

Conservatives were most likely to support more nuclear power. Fifty-five per cent want an increase.

The Liberal platform promises to “invest in the refurbishment of 10 nuclear units at Darlington and Bruce over 16 years.”

The Liberals claim it will create and sustaining 25,000 “high-wage jobs.”

But the platform doesn’t say what the refurbishment will cost.

The PCs say in their Million Jobs Plan they will “invest in affordable and clean nuclear and hydroelectric energy.” But it doesn’t say how much it will invest.

The word nuclear doesn’t appear in the NDP platform.

A Green Party funding proposals include reversing a 1 per cent corporate tax cut, ending the "costly" refurbishment of nuclear plants and proposing to pay for the increased Ontario Child Benefit by ending the final two years of a 10 per cent subsidy on electricity bills.

Chart: How much of Ontario’s energy should come from nuclear power (Mobile users can view the chart here)

Overall, 42 per cent of all Vote Compass respondents disagree with the statement that no new oil pipelines should be built in Ontario. Twelve per cent of all those who identified themselves as either Liberal, NDP or Green strongly disagree with the statement while 34 per cent of PCs strongly disagreed.

Chart: No new oil pipelines should be built in Ontario (Mobile users can view the chart here)

The Vote Compass findings are based on 58,623 respondents between May 25 and June 2, 2014, except the questions on supply mix and higher electricity prices, which are based on 14,657 respondents May 25 to June 2. Though Vote Compass is not a poll, respondent data are weighted using the latest population estimates from Statistics Canada to approximate a representative sample of the Ontario population.

Developed by a team of political scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is an educational tool offered exclusively in Canada for CBC News.


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