Survey: Majority of Westerners prefer renewable energy

By David O. Williams
Real AspenFebruary 28, 2011
A phone survey of 2,200 registered voters in five Western states, including 600 in Colorado, found that a majority of Western voters think the amount of their state’s electricity being produced by renewable energy sources should “dramatically increase,” even if it means paying more on their utility bill.

Conducted by both a Republican and Democratic polling firm and produced for the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, the “Conservation in the West” survey found that voters thought the average percentage of their state’s electricity coming from renewable resources should be about 65 percent.

Voters say the time is now for renewable energy.

Generally expressing more positive impressions of solar and wind power than coal or oil (with the exception of Wyoming residents), 77 percent of all those surveyed felt environmental standards and a strong economy can co-exist. And 65 percent said they disagree that renewable energy is “too unreliable to be a significant part of our energy supply.”

And a majority of voters in all five states (70 percent), which also included New Mexico, Montana and Utah, said it’s “time to start replacing coal with other energy sources like wind and solar power.”

The poll was conducted Jan. 23-27 by Lori Weigel at Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz at Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm). An executive summary is available by going to the Colorado College State of the Rockies website.

“This research underscores an interesting and important trend in these five states,” said Walt Hecox, Ph.D., professor at Colorado College and director of the State of the Rockies Project. “While there are differences of opinion on a range of issues, there are true common values shared between each state, including a commitment to protect the important natural resources that make this region so unique.”

Nearly nine out of 10 respondents said they would rather spend a day outdoors than in a city, and nearly 90 percent said it’s very or extremely important to have “clean water, clean air, natural areas and wildlife as fundamental ingredients in the good quality of life in their state.”

“Particularly interesting is the emergence of renewable energy sources – such as solar and wind power – as a much more attractive option over traditional fossil fuels,” Hecox said. “Voters see renewable energy as producing jobs, and they have ambitious goals for using more of these sources to supply their states’ overall energy needs.”


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