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Energy survey shows people are hot for change

July 20, 2009

Can a town run on sun and wind and other sources, rather than coal-fired electricity? What sort of town would it take? And what sort of commitment from its people? Newstead couldn’t be that town right now because generating energy from wind and sun or gas generated from burning things is too costly. So people say. But maybe we could in the future because a survey of Newstead’s households indicates people are keen on the idea. It’s just that the cost and complexity – of installing solar panels and wind turbines and other renewable energy mechanisms – gets in the way, they say.

Alex Hall and a team from N2021 conducted the survey during May and June. About 220 town households were approached either in person or by mail drop to answer questions about their interest in renewable energy i.e. energy from wind, sun and other renewable sources. Ninety-five households completed the survey and in late June at N2021’s Rocket Science session, Ray Culvenor of Sandon, who has expertise in analysing data, explained what the survey results showed.

energy graph

Currently 70 per cent of respondents heat their household water with electricity, 17 per cent on gas, 12per cent solar and some use wood stoves. Only 15 per cent of respondents buy greenpower, i.e. electricity from their normal retailer such as Origin but which comes from renewable sources. Sixty-four of the 95 respondents said they would consider alternatives to coal-powered electricity but 47 said expense was the biggest impediment. Other impediments were complexity (25.3%), lack of information (15.8%) and uncertainty (10.5%). Around 21% to 22 % were keen to take part in a bulk buy of solar hot water systems or solar panels. (Remember the survey was done on the eve of changes to government rebates, which are less attractive for consumers now than earlier this year.)

The survey shows that further education and explanations about renewable energy are required in our community, Ray said. 

N2021 would like to thank all those households who took part and Alex and Ray for their dedication and interest. The next step is to continue educating people about renewable energy.

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