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Ohio Voters Want More Clean Energy

Policies that encourage clean energy development earn strong support even among voters in coal country, poll shows.

DUBLIN, OH

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 completed last month 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.

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,” said 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. 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; 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.

Surprisingly, 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 we are open for business.

And Ohio voters say they’re 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 if it did cost more how much they would be willing to pay per month in higher electricity prices. Fully 92 percent say they would be willing to pay something more in order to increase the use of renewable energy. In fact, almost half – 49 percent – would be willing to pay ten dollars or more a month. Even in Southeastern Ohio, fully 91 percent indicate a willingness to pay more to use more renewable energy sources.

The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the nation’s largest Republican polling firm. Pollster Lori Weigel said “the 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.”

The poll shows that Ohioans understand that clean energy is the right thing to do for the environment, investing in renewables and energy efficiency is the right thing for Ohio’s economy as well, an idea put into practice every day by business owners large and small across Ohio. For examples of businesses that have used clean energy to improve their bottom line, see The Nature Conservancy’s “Clean and Green” report online.

Methodology: From July 17-20, 2017, Public Opinion Strategies completed 600 telephone interviews with registered voters throughout the state of Ohio. An oversample was conducted in order to reach a total of 230 interviews completed in Southeastern Ohio, which was defined as Belmont, Galia, Monroe, Athens, Guernsey, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Noble, Scioto, Vinton and Washington counties. Interviews were conducted on both landline and cell phones. The margin of sampling error for this statewide sample is +/-4.0% at the 95 percent confidence interval, and for the Southeastern Ohio sample is +/- 6.5%. Margins of sampling error for subgroups within the sample will be larger. Some percentages may sum to more than 100% due to rounding.
 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.