Wind power in Ontario: starting with the “perceptions”
Part II of Prepare to be Persuaded: asking the question about impressions of wind power
The first question in the Nanos Research Survey conducted from May 25th to June 1, 2014 for CanWEA was this: “For the following ways of generating large-scale electricity/electricity used by communities, industries, businesses, please rate your impression as very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor or very poor.”
The 500 telephone calls randomly made to 250 GTA residents and 250 “other” Ontario residents reaped the following results: respondents gave hydroelectricity a 86% “very good” or “somewhat good” response making it the clear winner; solar came in second with 70%, gas third with 68%, wind was fourth with 65% and nuclear close behind with 63%.
Now if one travels back to October 2007, an Angus Reid Strategies survey reported “89 per cent of respondents said that using renewable energy sources like wind or solar power was positive for Canada, because these sources were better for the environment.”
The fall from grace for wind as a generation source for electricity as perceived by Ontarians might be connected to this set of facts.
- In 2007 Ontario had 500 MW of wind capacity
- There were about 250 turbines (includes the iconic Exhibition Place turbine) in Ontario
- By June 2014 there was about 3,000 MW of wind capacity in commercial operation, and 1,300 turbines (some 500 feet high) in many communities outside the GTA
- The Ontario Power Authority has an additional 2,600 MW contracted for under development, which will add another 1,000 turbines in many other Ontario communities
- the average price of electricity in 2007 was 5.4 cents/kWh and the average price of electricity in 2014 was 9.5 cents/kWh, a 76% jump from 2007.
Those facts coupled with the pain of higher electricity bills has made many in the province much wiser about wind power; presumably a few of them were among the 500 randomly called.
Actually, the Nanos survey report did not in fact provide the reader with the percentage of callers reached who were electricity ratepayers. That knowledge might perhaps have painted a more dismal picture for the wind proponents at CanWEA; people who pay electricity bills directly have a better understanding of how the electricity system works, and how utility-scale wind developments have driven up our bills.
The Executive Summary after touting the 65% approval rating for wind power goes on to state, “Positive impressions are supported by the perception that wind is a strong energy source for environmentally friendly and safe electricity.” [My emphasis]
Next: Part III of this examination of the Nanos Research report to CanWEA, where we examine the issues described that will drive the key narratives CanWEA will pursue in their efforts to convince Ontarians of the wonders and benefits of industrial wind turbines.