Energy and environmental issues matter to US voters much more than many candidates and party officials are aware — or than they let on, or than the mainstream press is reporting. American voters voice strong support for raising the priority of renewables on the White House agenda and expect it of the next president.
The seventh annual Sense & Sustainability® Study of US adults by G&S Business Communications has found that about 4 of every 5 Americans (78%) say the next US president should quickly prioritize renewable energy.
Specific benefits cited in the report:
- Energy efficiency cost savings (26%)
- Energy security (23%)
- Government tax revenues (19%)
Ron Loch, G&S managing director and sustainability consulting leader, points out:
“Even the contentious nature of this year’s presidential campaign [cannot] distract Americans from recognizing the importance of renewable energy to future economic growth and their own personal well-being. It’s clear that public interest is served when there are discussions about the broader financial impact of fossil energy and the need to improve both energy efficiency and the infrastructure investment required to build a resilient power grid.”
More than 4 in 5 Americans (85%) see themselves benefiting from alternatives to conventional power utilities. These include distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar and wind.
American voters also see the benefits of a more resilient power grid. Citizens are also correct in believing that energy market competition offers advantages beyond cost savings. More than two-thirds (68%) even feel it is more important for the nation to have a resilient power grid than for individuals to get lower electricity costs. For the second year in a row, the same three industries (agriculture, food and beverage, and energy) are leading with positive reputations for sustainability, while manufacturing, leisure services, and transportation lag.
Along with the strong public sentiment for renewables comes an almost even split in consumer trust that elected leaders understand all the costs associated with fossil fuel energies (52%-48%). About half those polled believe, and half disagree, that elected officials are well informed about fossil energy’s total costs — including powerful indirect effects such as air pollution costs to the healthcare industry and the impact of climate change on property insurance as well as power plant financing and operations.
Possibly most important to the overall political scene is that more than three-quarters (77%) of those surveyed feel that government regulators should develop a pricing model that would ensure that when smaller-scale, independently owned renewable operators and homeowners return excess power to the grid, the utilities pay fairly for it.
Harris Poll fielded the survey of 2,007 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in August 2016 via the QuickQuery online omnibus product. To obtain a summary of the study, visit the company’s website here. Also, note SunEdison founder Jigar Shah’s report in Peak Oil News about the mainstream news disconnect to the actual status of solar and wind in the US.