OTTAWA (Reuters) - Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party, which has pledged to scrap generous electricity rates for green energy production, has taken a strong lead in popular support ahead of the October 6 provincial election.
An Ipsos Reid poll published in Postmedia newspapers on Thursday showed the provincial Tories ahead with 42 percent support, Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberals at 31 percent, and the leftist New Democratic Party at 22 percent.
The McGuinty government is paying at least twice the market rate for wind power and as much as 10 or 15 times the market rate for some forms of solar energy -- 80 Canadian cents a kilowatt hour for small rooftop operations.
The plan is the most comprehensive subsidy scheme for clean energy production in North America, with the government aiming to shut down the provinces cheaper but dirtier coal-fired generating plants.
Conservative leader Tim Hudak has pledged to stop awarding new contracts under the two-year-old feed in tariff plan, saying it is financially wasteful and has pushed consumers' electricity rates too high.
Ipsos pollster John Wright said a Conservative ad campaign portraying McGuinty as the "Tax Man" appeared to have boosted the Conservatives' numbers.
The phone sample was taken June 7-July 7. It covered 802 people, considered accurate to within 3.5 points 19 times out of 20.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson