Voters throughout Ohio overwhelmingly support policies that encourage greater production of renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency, including renewable energy standards and revising wind turbine set-back rules to better accommodate wind farm siting, according to statewide polling recently completed on behalf of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. Surprisingly, an oversample of voters in Southeast Ohio shows strong support for clean energy in Ohio’s coal country, as well.
The Nature Conservancy in Ohio says voters perceive the economic value of increased renewable energy and want their elected officials to support energy efficiency and renewable energy policies. More than two-thirds of voters statewide say greater renewable energy will benefit the state economy.
“In this poll, Ohio voters demonstrate their faith that we can meet the growing and changing demand for energy while at the same time acting to ensure a prosperous, clean and secure energy future,” says Josh Knights, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. “While there is a continued push to weaken Ohio’s renewable energy standards and obstruct wind energy development, it’s clear that Ohio voters want to see policies in place that help promote renewable energy development rather than hamper it.”
Poll respondents display an overwhelming sense that the state should place greater emphasis on energy efficiency, solar power, and wind than on traditional energy sources, according to The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. Nearly nine-in-ten Ohio voters across the state would advise an elected official in the state to support policies that encourage energy efficiency and greater use of renewable energy. Vast majorities of Ohioans want to place more emphasis on energy efficiency, solar and wind – with less emphasis on coal.
In fact, if it were up to the voters, a majority of the state’s electricity would come from renewable energy.
As mentioned, strong support for clean energy policies can also be found in Southeast Ohio, where historically, coal mining has helped fuel the local economy and strong support for fossil fuels. An oversample of voters in 12 Ohio counties in the Appalachian southeast showed that significant majorities of voters in coal country support a stronger emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy (solar and wind) and less than half of those voters support a stronger emphasis on coal.
Voters in Southeast Ohio, on average, say 55% of Ohio’s energy should come from clean energy. A majority of voters in the region say policies that promote a greater emphasis on renewable energy will benefit the state’s economy. Four-in-five of these voters would advise their elected officials to support these policies.
Statewide, Ohio voters want to see policies in place that help promote renewable energy development rather than slow it down. Specifically, 79% of voters support a policy requiring major electric utilities to gradually increase their use of renewable energy to 12.5% over the next eight years. They also support a more reasonable set‐back limit for wind turbines by 86%. Poll respondents agree that state policies promoting renewable energy development in Ohio sends a clear message to investors that the state is open for business.
And the poll shows voters are willing to back their preference for clean energy by paying more for their electricity if it means greater renewable energy use. While respondents were informed that “the cost of renewable energy is coming down dramatically,” they were asked hypothetically that, if it did cost more, how much they would be willing to pay per month in higher electricity prices. Fully, 92% say they would be willing to pay something more in order to increase the use of renewable energy. In fact, almost half – 49% – would be willing to pay $10.00 or more a month. Even in Southeastern Ohio, 91% indicate a willingness to pay more to use more renewable energy sources.
The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm. Pollster Lori Weigel says, “[T]he survey clearly demonstrates that Ohio voters see energy efficiency and renewable energy sources as something the state should place greater emphasis on. If up to them, they would greatly increase the proportion of the state’s electricity coming from wind and solar power, and are even willing to pay more to see that happen.”