Energy Evolution: May 5, 2008
Survey Shows Cost Factors As Most Significant Issue
Cost was the most commonly mentioned response as the single most important issue involving electricity and natural gas in Ontario, according to a report by Environics Research Group Ltd.
"Cost was the most common response mentioned, top-of-mind, as the single most important issue involving electricity and natural gas in Ontario," said the report, which drew conclusions based upon focus sessions conducted in Toronto, Hamilton and Sault St. Marie.
"Moreover, it was the most often mentioned issue in almost all sessions, except among younger participants in Hamilton (only a few cited cost )," the Environics report said.
Environics was retained by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to conduct focus group research among the public and consumers about electricity and gas issues as well as awareness about the regulator and its mandate.
The primary objectives of this research were to understand:
The focus session research consisted of six sessions: two each in Toronto, Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie.
Both sessions in each city consisted of adults who are solely or jointly responsible for paying the household bill for electricity or gas.
One session in each city included adults aged 18 to 39, while the other included those 40 and older.
According to Environics, consumption was the most often mentioned issue among younger participants in Hamilton, but was also cited by some older groupings in Toronto and Hamilton as well as one participant in the other sessions.
Renewable sources of energy were mentioned by a few younger participants in Sault Ste. Marie and one participant in nearly all the other sessions, except that involving younger participants in Hamilton.
Long-term supply or sustainability was cited by one younger and one older participant in Toronto and one younger participant in Sault Ste. Marie.
Environics found a small number of participants said they knew what rate they were paying for electricity, with prices cited ranging between four and 30 cents per kilowatt hour.
A small number of participants said they knew what they were paying for gas, citing prices ranging between 26 and to 32 cents per cubic metre.
Environics found a range of responses was given as to how electricity prices are determined.
"Supply and demand" were most often mentioned, particularly by older participants in Toronto, while "market value, profit margin and time of use," were also cited, but the latter only in Toronto sessions, particularly among older participants.
Participants also said prices were based upon these factors:
Environics said a range of responses was given as factors that go into setting the prices they pay for generating electricity, including:
Environics reported that participants expressed somewhat high awareness in a few areas, such as if they had heard of an electricity smart meter, with several able to describe what it was or what it could do for them.
Participants expressed mixed or low awareness in a few areas, most notably:
Environics found "very low awareness" for: