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Americans Willing to Pay Extra for Clean Energy, Study Says


Barack Obama’s January 2011 State of the Union address called for a National Clean Energy Standard (NCES) that would target having 80% of all energy sources in the US to be generated from green sources by 2035.  The U.S. citizens are ready to pay the extra cost – as long as they will get green energy. However, political forces have continuously appeared to be extremely far from legislating it.

In a Matthew Kotchen and colleagues’ study to investigate whether Americans were in support of this, it was found out that on average, the public was in favor of the clean energy bill proposed by Obama.  Kotchen, an affiliate of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, had 1010 US citizens participating in this study. The respondents had no problem with the additional cost to them provided it raised their annual electricity bills by no more than 13 per cent.

These results were consistent with a 2007 poll conducted by the New Scientist magazine. In this poll, made public in June that year, a third of the respondents cited global warming as the world’s biggest environmental problem.

The data obtained from the Kotchen survey was used to bring about a simulation of how the current House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate would vote in the event that different versions of the NCES bill would be tabled. Kotchen says that the results depicted a very different picture here – partisan politics have their part!

The study found out that the bill would only go through if it increased electricity bills by no more than 5 percent. According to the Nature Climate Change, such a result would only come about because the number of politicians in the major parties is not directly proportional to the political persuasions of the districts they represent.

Kotchen states that the bill could have passed both houses before last year’s mid-term elections even if it led to a 13% increase in annual electricity bills.

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