The Trump maladministration wants to choke us all with more emissions from coal-fired generating plants, but a survey of 1200 Americans conducted by GfK for Consumer Reports finds the vast majority of Americans want more renewable energy and less power plant pollution. The survey also reveals that plenty of utilities seem to have a credibility issue with their customers. Consumers Union has submitted the results of the survey to the EPA as part of the public comment process on rolling back the Clean Power Plan that ended October 31.
Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that people are smarter than the politicians they elect, a staggering 81% of respondents agreed that reducing pollution from power plants is a worthwhile goal. The survey included 400 people living in 4 states where coal is the predominant source of electricity — Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. Their responses were not significantly different than those from people living in other states where coal power is less prevalent.
76% of people surveyed agreed that increasing renewable energy such as solar and wind is a worthwhile goal. 70% said they expect electricity to become cleaner over time. Oddly enough, climate change barely moves the needle for most voters, but renewable energy — which is directly connected to climate change — does.
Utilities Have A Credibility Issue
Here’s something that should concern utility companies. Less than a third of Americans trust their utility company to offer fair rates and service. Think about that for a moment. That is a dismal statistic and one power company executives should be afraid of. If any industry in America is ripe for disruption, it is utilities.
It gets worse. Only 18% believe their utility company cares about lowing monthly utility bills. More than 60% want to see their utility company invest in higher energy efficiency before building new power plants and only 22% believe their utility is doing a good job of investing in renewable energy. The majority of people say they would like to be able to choose their own utility company, something that is prohibited by law in all but 13 states.
“The American public expresses overwhelming majority support for the twin goals of greater reliance on cleaner and renewable energy sources,” says Shannon Baker-Branstetter, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “But they don’t trust their utilities on pricing or investing in renewables, and want to be able to pick their utility provider.
She also had some advice for consumers. “State public utility commissions are political appointees, so electing state leaders that prioritize fair rates and clean energy investments can help hold utilities accountable,” Baker-Branstetter says. “It’s up to the public to push utilities and utility commissions to improve their options, keep rates affordable, and clean up the grid.”
Voters Will Decide In Arizona And Nevada
Voters in Arizona and Nevada has a chance to do precisely that next Tuesday. Both states have ballot initiatives pending that will require local utilities to derive 50% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That may seem like a modest goal to most of us, given the the cost of renewable energy keeps dropping, but to listen to the utility companies, which have spent millions to fight the proposals, forcing renewables down the throats of power companies it’s un-American — a dastardly plot cooked up by George Soros to pick the pockets of hard working Americans.
Conservatives are always singing the praises of deregulation, but John Howat, a senior policy analyst at the National Consumer Law Center, says, “There has been a consistent pattern of predatory, abusive marketing and pricing in states that have deregulated.” Apparently, predatory, abusive marketing and pricing are qualities to be proud of if you are a conservative.
Solar Panels Are Popular
53% of respondents said they would be willing to install solar panels on their own roof or participate in a community solar program if they could recover their investment in five years. 48% said they would be willing to pay $5 more per month for energy that comes from renewable sources.
So let’s recap: Renewables are cheaper than coal, natural gas, or nuclear. Americans strongly approve of more renewable energy. Yet many utility companies are fiercely resisting any move toward renewables. It’s as if they are telling us, “‘It’s our electricity, dammit. We made it and we will sell it to you at any price we damn well please. You should just shut up and pay your utility bill before we decide to shut off your service!”
That’s precisely the sort of corporate arrogance we are seeing today from traditional car makers. Both groups are in danger of becoming irrelevant and are paddling furiously upstream to protect their established fiefdoms. Good luck with that, fellas.