Market research into the attitudes of US and Canadian residential solar customers conducted by E Source produced a number of key insights. Perhaps the most striking was that 80% of the survey respondents said policy makers should encourage solar panel installation through the use of subsidies.
Solar power support was the greatest in Western states, with about 85% saying they are for solar power with subsidies. In the South, about 81% said they also support solar power subsidies. There was almost no difference in this support of subsidies for solar power between income levels. It was not surprising that the group which identified itself with an environmental bent had the highest percentage who said they supported subsidies for solar at 88%. This figure was 79% for the most cost-conscious of the respondents.
Due to these consistent levels of support for solar power subsidies, the efforts to block them made by some utilities could tarnish their image with consumers.
One might see why some of them would try to resist solar power – mainly because owners of their own solar power systems could generate some or all of their own electricity and therefore would no longer be completely dependent on utilities.
In fact, the survey inquired how it would be for the respondents if they paid nothing for the electricity to a utility company. Almost 70% said if would be acceptable for customers to have no monthly utility payment. For the respondents who were 18-24 years of age, about 82% of them were in favor of paying nothing. For the customers who identified as Environmental or Technical, about 77% said the same thing. The lowest percentage in favor of a zero dollars paid to a utility were those 65 years old and older.
One of the big questions related to how to manage the increasing number of solar power installations is how much owners should be paid for the excess electricity they generate and send to the grid. Of those surveyed, 18% said the home owners should be paid less than the retail cost of electricity. The ability to generate some income – although probably a small one – would be another incentive encouraging the adoption of solar power.
These kinds of survey results are important because they provide insights into how people perceive solar power and what their levels of enthusiasm are for it. There is some misinformation floating around that is anti-solar, which deliberately tries to mislead readers into believing that solar power is unpopular or unaffordable. Neither of these views is accurate, however.
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