Public Opinion Survey

There has been a lot of speculation about what Albertans think about the merits of underground power lines, and what, if anything, Albertans are willing to pay to have very high voltage transmission lines put underground whenever they are run by schools, homes, daycares, hospitals, environmentally sensitive areas and so on.

Well RETA decided to end the speculation by asking Albertans what they think by way of a Leger Marketing survey conducted in October. At a high level, here’s what we heard from the survey:

  • The telephone survey of 900 randomly selected Alberta households was conducted between October 16 and 26, 2009, and results are accurate to within ±3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
  • Alberta residents indicate concern about the safety of small children, potential health risks, and the noise and appearance associated with above ground high voltage power lines.
  • While a majority of Albertans agree power lines can be located below ground by homes, schools or daycare centres, significantly fewer agree that power lines can be located above ground near these locations.
  • On average, Albertans are willing to pay $3.55 on their monthly power bill to have power lines buried in the province of Alberta; this figure increases significantly to $4.02 when asked how much they would be willing to pay to have lines buried close to their own home or child’s school.
  • This is good news since we’d be surprised if partial undergrounding in the case of the Heartland Project amounted to anything more than $0.50 per household per month and so Albertans would be willing to pay for 7 or 8 similar projects, amounting to some 48,000 MW in capacity (enough to power a population and attendant industry of around 18 million people – the peak load last year in the province was 9,800 MW).
  • There were no significant differences as to whether or not individuals would be willing to pay for undergrounding based on whether they lived in Edmonton, Calgary or other parts of the province.
  • The majority of Albertans (8 out of 10) feel that the value of a home is decreased when it is located near a high voltage power line, and on average, Albertans believe the home is devalued by 16% (note that this average also includes those who felt the value of a home would increase or stay the same and includes the opinions of both homeowners and renters).

Detailed survey results from Leger Marketing can be found here. These results will be discussed at the Mother-of-All Power Line Meetings sponsored by RETA to be held at Rexall Place at 7:00 p.m., November 24, 2009.  Note: the meeting venue has recently been upgraded by Northlands to Rexall Place from Hall D.

~ by RETA on November 5, 2009.

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