Research Press Release

Nature Climate Change: US public support for clean energy

Nature Climate Change

May 14, 2012

The average US citizen is willing to bear a 13% increase in their annual electricity bill in support of a national clean energy standard (NCES), reports research in Nature Climate Change this week. The promotion of clean energy has become an increasingly important priority in the United States. In 2010 and 2011, Republicans and Democrats proposed mandating clean power generation in the electricity sector. As clean energy is likely to raise electricity costs, a critical question is whether the US public support passage of a NCES. This research suggests that there is a certain level of support for the policy strategy.

Matthew Kotchen and colleagues conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,010 US citizens between April and May 2011. Respondents were asked whether they would ‘support’ or ‘oppose’ a NCES with the goal of 80% clean energy by 2035. In particular, they randomly received one of three definitions for clean energy - renewables only, renewables and natural gas, and renewables and nuclear - and likewise amounts for how much the NCES would increase annual household electricity bills.

Results show that, on average, US citizens would be willing to pay $162 per year in higher electricity bills to support a NCES. The researchers also noted lower support for a NCES among non-whites, older individuals and Republicans.


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