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Majority of Ontarians believe hydro rates increased last year: Poll


There may be smart meters, time-of-use pricing and other conservation measures available to hydro customers, but an Abacus Data Inc. poll says 60% of Ontarians believe their electricity bills went up over the past year.Only 2% of those polled say they saw a decrease in their hydro bills.Abacus Data Inc. CEO David Coletto said that whether hydro rates really are going up or not, those views open up an opportunity for the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats to criticize the Kathleen Wynne government’s energy policy.

“That perception could be a vote driver whenever the next election comes along,” he said.

The Abacus Data poll, released Tuesday, took a snapshot of how Ontarians see their electricity system just as the Wynne government looks to create a long-term plan to keep the lights on in the province.

The poll traced strong and uniform support for wind power across Ontario but enthusiasm wanes when the massive turbines sprout up in sight.

“Most Ontarians have a positive impression of wind energy, until you ask whether they want a wind turbine on their property or in sight of their house,” Coletto said. “It’s a perfect case of ‘Not In My Backyard.'”

And while the poll found that most Ontarians don’t know a lot about the province’s electricity system, they do know what they don’t like — costly cancelled gas plants.

In fact, 49% of Ontarians believe the controversy over the Liberal’s decision to stick taxpayers with a $585-million bill for cancelling gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga is enough to warrant a trip to the polls.

“Media coverage of the issue dropped and with summer, public attention to the issue also declined,” Coletto said. “But many people are still angry about it and almost half of Ontarians want an election so they can pass judgment on the Liberal government.”

The pollster asked those Ontarians who were aware of the gas plant cancellations if they were happy with how each political party had handled the controversy, and less than one in five thought the Liberals had done well compared to roughly one in three for the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP.

More than 75% of those Ontarians believe there is more information that needs to be uncovered.

“Desire for an election was largely motivated by political support with just 18% of Liberals thinking it should force an election, versus 56% of NDP supporters and 75% of Tories,” the poll says.