Survey: 90 percent of Mass. residents favor renewable power


March 15, 2002 — Ninety percent of surveyed Massachusetts residents said they favor more use of energy sources other than other than gas, oil, coal, and nuclear power, a recent survey shows.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corp. for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and released March 13, was conducted by telephone among 650 Massachusetts residents distributed statewide.

While the survey revealed a surprising two-thirds of those surveyed were not familiar with the terms as “green power” or “renewable energy,” participants overall were very positive about the use of renewable sources once the terms were explained.

Ninety percent favored increasing the use of renewable energy. Sixty-two percent strongly favored and 28 percent somewhat favored the increased use of solar power systems, wind turbines and other technologies to produce electricity from renewable resources.

More than half of all Massachusetts consumers surveyed said they would be willing to pay extra for renewable energy. Fifty-seven percent of those who indicated they would pay more said they would be willing to pay $10 or more extra each month if all of their electricity was produced from renewable energy.

A strong majority (70%) of Massachusetts consumers would be willing to pay more for green power if the extra cost could be deducted as a charitable donation on their income tax.
To test the intensity of consumers’ support for renewable energy, surveyors read some potential negative statements on the topic and then gauged consumer interest again.

After hearing statements about some of the drawbacks of green power (like higher cost and impracticality), the percentage of consumers who strongly favored increasing renewable energy dropped 15 percent to 47 percent. However, those who strongly favored combined with those who somewhat favored the increased use of green power still totaled 88 percent.

Residents’ willingness to pay more each month for electricity from renewable resources appears to be very encouraging for the success of “consumer aggregator” programs currently under development in the Commonwealth.

However, the drop in consumers’ intensity of support (after they hear potential “negative” statements about green power) suggests that effective public education programs will be an important component of efforts to increase consumer demand for electricity generated from wind, solar and other renewable resources. These activities will be necessary to ensure that the strong public support reflected in this survey is maintained — and ultimately translates into favorable purchasing decisions.

Background:
Opinion Dynamics Corporation (Cambridge, MA) was commissioned by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to conduct a statewide public opinion research survey. The Collaborative manages the “Renewable Energy Trust” and is working with organizations that are developing “consumer aggregation programs.”

These programs would pool the collective buying power of consumers interested in purchasing “green power.” The primary focus of the survey was to measure public attitudes toward renewable energy as well as Massachusetts consumers’ interest in purchasing electricity produced from renewable resources, which includes solar and wind.

For more information, visit the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s web site at http://www.mtpc.org/about/contact.htm.

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