By Sarah Wolfe
New polling out of Nevada, New Hampshire, and Hawaii shows that one of the quickest ways for politicians to lose favorability points among voters is through solar apathy. Failure to stand up for solar can actually flip approval ratings on their head.
Case in point: For months, solar supporters in Nevada have been fighting back against NV Energy’s attempts to levy extreme fees on solar users. Prior to understanding the solar debate, Nevadans’ perception of Governor Brian Sandoval was largely positive. Polling shows that 63% of voters agreed that he was a strong leader for Nevada.
But those numbers flipped upon learning that Governor Sandoval failed to take a leadership role to protect solar jobs during this year’s legislative session and the ongoing regulatory proceeding. 54% of likely voters who were polled had an unfavorable view of Governor Sandoval after learning about his lack of leadership during the debate.
This perception isn’t confined to Nevada voters. In a subsequent poll, likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire were asked about Governor Sandoval’s viability as a Vice Presidential candidate in 2016. The poll found that fewer than half of all likely Republican primary voters in a key swing state would vote for Governor Sandoval after learning that he failed to protect solar energy in Nevada. The number of likely Republican primary voters who were unwilling to vote for Governor Sandoval as VP actually doubled.
Recent polling in Hawaii confirms that leaders everywhere face political repercussions when they fail to stand up for solar choice. In October, the Hawaii Commission decided to eliminate net metering, the fundamental policy for rooftop solar growth. Polling found that 97% of Hawaii residents support more rooftop solar in the state, and three out of four voters oppose the decision to end net metering. After learning that Governor David Ige spoke favorably about the Commission’s decision to eliminate net metering, support for him drops drastically: 70% say they have an unfavorable opinion of his leadership.
That’s worth a long pause. Governor Sandoval and Governor Ige have tried to use the “wall” between their offices and the Commissions in their states as a way to stay out of the spotlight on solar issues. Yet the public is demanding leadership in both cases. The three states polled couldn’t be further apart politically (or geographically), but on this issue, they’re fully aligned.
With thousands of jobs and families’ lives on the line, American voters across the country are calling for leadership on solar. And it’s abundantly clear that there will be political repercussions for Governors Sandoval and Ige, and any politician who fails to take a stand against monopoly utilities that attempt to eliminate rooftop solar.
Sarah Wolfe is the Senior Manager of National Campaigns at Sunrun.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book
Our Latest EVObsession Video
CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.