A new report reveals key findings about Regina residents’ attitudes toward the city’s planned move to 100% sustainability

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Dr. Brett Dolter’s newly released report, Regina’s Renewable Energy Target: Survey Results Measuring Support for the Target and Related Actions, reveals key insights into Regina residents’ views about the city’s planned sustainability transition. In 2018, the City of Regina’s city council unanimously voted in favour of adopting a 100% renewable energy model by 2050. The report summarizes the results of a survey Dolter conducted in order to gauge community support for the initiative.

The Regina Energy Futures Survey (REFS) was administered to 451 Regina residents by phone during August and September of 2019. Dolter, who is assistant professor in the University of Regina Department of Economics, will introduce the report to the City of Regina's Planning and Priorities committee on 23 September.

The report indicates that there is strong support for the city’s 100% renewable energy target, and highlights several politically tenable actions and policies that the City of Regina could put in place to move toward that goal.

Dolter suggests the findings of the report represent an opportunity for city policy makers. He explains, “With a municipal election on November 9, candidates for Regina City Council can consider this public support for the 100% renewable energy target when developing their platforms”.

The report highlights other key findings about the planned transition, indicating that some residents would be willing to pay an additional charge on their property taxes dedicated to achieving the sustainability target.

Likewise, a strong majority of residents indicated support for the construction of a wind farm outside of city limits.

The report also details broad support for solar power initiatives. Three-quarters of those surveyed whose homes could accommodate solar panels would opt to install them for a financial return, or even on a ‘break even’ basis. The impact, Dolter notes, could be significant. “If all eligible households installed solar, they could generate up to 370 Gigawatt-hours (GWh) of solar per year”, he says.

Additionally, one-eighth of residents living in solar-eligible homes would be willing to pay more to generate solar energy.

Residents’ attitudes toward solar power use highlight key implications for policy-making. Dolter discovered, for instance, that residents would be more likely to install solar panels if they could finance them using a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan from the City of Regina that would be repaid through property tax payments.

Another key finding highlights Regina residents’ attitudes toward sustainable modes of transportation. More than one-third of the survey respondents stated that they would prefer to walk, cycle or use public transit whenever possible. Over one-third also consider the walkability of their neighbourhood when deciding where to live.

This represents another strategic opportunity, Dolter explains. “Despite finding that more than one-third of Regina residents would prefer to walk, cycle or use transit, only 12% of residents regularly use these options,” he says. “This suggests that the City of Regina could work to enhance the safety, accessibility, and desirability of walking, cycling, and transit to allow more people to choose these options.”

Dolter urges the City of Regina to consider the findings of the report, and the existence of a broad base of public support, in policy-making for the planned renewable energy transition. “Municipal government is uniquely positioned to influence land use and the city’s urban form. The City of Regina could also consider programs like PACE loans to help Regina residents finance clean energy projects like solar panels”, he says. “There is a real opportunity here.

 

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23 September 2020