Voters split on whether Coalition should build new coal plants or stop closures
Voters are divided on whether the government should intervene to stop coal power stations closing, or subsidise the construction of new coal plants, but strongly back energy efficiency measures, a new poll has found.
The YouGov Galaxy poll, released on Monday, found that 42% want the government to intervene to keep existing coal electricity generators open compared with 33% who oppose it.
Subsidies for new coal plants or the government building them itself are less popular, with 41% in favour compared with 37% against.
The results of the poll, commissioned by the Property Council, the Energy Efficiency Council and the Australian Council for Social Services, come ahead of a meeting of energy ministers on Friday to discuss the design of the national energy guarantee.
Details of the design contained in an Energy Security Board paper make it clear that regulators will take a technology neutral approach rather than seeking to prolong the life of coal plants, despite a conservative faction in the Liberal party arguing for more government intervention.
The YouGov Galaxy poll of 1,000 respondents found that 91% think it is important or very important for the government to help reduce households’ and businesses’ energy bills.
Investing in energy efficiency was the most popular option to do so, with 88% in favour and just 5% opposed. Regulating electricity prices came in a close second with 83% support and 8% opposed.
Increasing the reliability of the grid was also seen as positive with 45% in favour and 36% opposed.
The poll found strong support for renewable energy with a call to reduce incentives for renewable energy and energy storage supported by just 34% of respondents and opposed by 50%.
The Property Council NSW executive director, Jane Fitzgerald, said the community was “more concerned about energy costs than private health costs, fuels costs, mortgages or food and groceries”.
The Property Council wants governments to adopt measures such as the NSW government’s $500m environmental investment package, which seeks to attract up to $3bn of investment in energy efficiency and advanced energy measures such as battery storage.
In a separate piece of research, the Australian Wind Alliance has estimated that windfarm construction has delivered an economic boost of almost $4bn to regional Australia in direct and indirect benefits.
The estimate is based on research by Sinclair Knight Merz for the Clean Energy Council in 2012 that found a 50MW windfarm could generate up to 48 full-time equivalent direct jobs from spending during construction and 160 indirect jobs.
The AWA report also found that windfarms pay between $19m and $21.5m to landholders and community enhancement funds every year.