Nearly six in 10 residents in the Ontario communities of Pickering, Ajax, and Scarborough oppose the plan to keep the aging Pickering nuclear generating station in operation through 2024—and 82% prefer to import hydro-generated electricity from Quebec as long as that option is less expensive, according to polling released yesterday by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
“By a ratio of almost 2:1, residents in these areas said they do not want to see the 46-year-old plant continue operating for another six years,” Alliance Outreach Director Angela Bischoff states in a release. “When told that Ontario has been offered power by Quebec at a cost that is roughly two-thirds of Pickering’s operating costs, support for closing the aging plant became overwhelming: 82% of those polled thought it made more sense to import power from Quebec than to keep Pickering running.”
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The idea of replacing Pickering with a cleaner, less expensive alternative won the support of 100% of the area’s Green Party supporters, 90% of New Democrats, 86% of Liberals, and 71% of Progressive Conservatives. With 89% support for closing Pickering in the 18- to 34-year-old age group, Bischoff notes, “a legacy of radioactive waste and more debt is unappealing to a generation that well understands the power of renewable technologies.”
The poll by Sudbury-based Oracle research, which carried a 4.4% error margin 19 times out of 20, found that 59% of respondents opposed or strongly opposed extending Pickering’s operating licence to 2024, as Ontario Power Generation has proposed. Only 35% supported or strongly supported the notion. The numbers shifted drastically when poll respondents were presented with a cost comparison between nuclear-generated electricity and imported power from existing hydro stations in Quebec.