Where New Yorkers Stand on the Future of Clean Energy

The Poll Results Might Surprise You

Read the full report here or check out this infographic for a visual summary.

Governor Cuomo is charting a path towards a cleaner energy future in New York. With the boldest plan in the nation, New York’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) initiative aims to reinvent our electricity system to reduce costs, increase reliability and most importantly, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With an ambitious goal of reducing 80% of carbon emissions by 2050, the State aims to generate 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

But where do New Yorkers stand on this new vision for the state? The Nature Conservancy commissioned public opinion research to find out. You’ll be stunned by the powerful results.

Here’s what we found:

The majority of New Yorkers think global warming is a serious problem

The research revealed that New Yorkers are broadly concerned about global warming. More than half of voters rated global warming as an “extremely serious” or “very serious” issue. Voters clearly understand the threats a warming climate poses and what’s more, their concern motivates them to take action towards a cleaner energy future for New York.

Support for New York’s goal of 50% of clean energy by 2030 is nearly universal

90% of New York voters back the Clean Energy Standard – New York’s goal to rely on 50% clean energy by 2030. In fact, the average voter wants 70% of New York electricity to come from clean, renewable sources. Voters were also nearly unanimous in their support for wind and solar power as well as for a modern “smart” grid system that includes wind, solar and energy storage capacity. 89% of voters support using more wind power, 94% support using more solar power and 95% would like a modern grid system.

New Yorkers know they have a role to play and are ready to step up

New Yorkers want more choice and control over their energy use including more options for energy services. Almost two-thirds of voters responded that they think a great deal about how their actions and choices affect climate change, and nearly 50% responded that while they try hard to reduce their electricity use, they could do more.

New Yorkers are willing to change their behavior

Even more impressive, a majority of voters are willing to take – or already are taking – actions to meet the goals of REV. Simple steps to accomplish these goals range from curbing electricity use during periods of high demand to replacing appliances with energy-efficient models. In addition, voters are willing to make energy-efficiency improvements in their homes and embrace new technologies to monitor and adjust their energy use.

New Yorkers are willing to pay more for cleaner energy

Voters are willing to pay up to $10 more per month in order to implement the State’s REV initiative. This willingness was consistent across demographic groups including among voters with household incomes below $30,000 per year. This sets New York apart - not every state is this eager to take action to modernize their electric grid!

New Yorkers strongly back the State’s clean-energy transition overall

4 in 5 New York voters strongly support the government’s plan to modernize the electrical grid to reduce costs, increase reliability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Support for REV was robust even after voters learned about potential personal costs. Why do voters so strongly support implementing REV that they’re willing to personally invest?

Voters care about climate change and its impact on future generations

When asked what was most persuasive about REV – such as lowered costs, increased reliability, consumer control, new technology and market-based solutions – the most persuasive message was, “The time has come for us to take hold of our energy future so that our children and grandchildren will live in a state that is less dependent on fossil fuels and runs more on new clean, efficient and affordable renewable energy.”

New Yorkers’ willingness to participate in REV will be critical in our mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is urgently needed to avoid triggering the most severe impacts of sea-level rise, weather disturbances and habitat loss.

What will the Conservancy do next?

Conservancy staff members are sharing these powerful findings with decision-makers and using the data to emphasize that New Yorkers want clean energy and are willing partners in the new energy economy. The Conservancy is using the research results to call for ambitious clean energy goals and programs that will accelerate New York’s progress towards a clean energy future.

Climate change is already affecting our lives and the places we live, and the Conservancy is strategizing how to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in the necessary science and tools to adapt.

Learn more about how the Conservancy is investing in nature to make New York more resilient and supporting the REV initiative as a voice for conservation


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