Poll: Americans Will Pay for Clean Energy

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lancecheungmedia/3718169683/sizes/m/in/photostream/">lancecheungmedia</a>/Flickr


A recent poll found that the majority of Americans want to take measures now to curb our greenhouse gas emissions. But one of the complaints you often hear from lawmakers in Washington is that when it comes to solutions like deploying more renewable energy, Americans aren’t willing to pay for them—particularly during a time of widespread economic distress. But, turns out that’s not actually the case.

A new paper published this week in Nature Climate Change finds that the average person in the US is actually willing to pay as much as $162 more each year for power in order to deploy more clean energy. The polling, conducted by researchers from Harvard, Yale, and the National Bureau of Economic Research, asked people about their support for a national clean energy standard (NCES). This type of standard would set requirements for how much of our energy portfolio should be generated from sources like wind, solar, and geothermal. More than thirty states already have some form of a clean energy standard, and the researchers found that implementing the policy nationally would probably cost households less than $60.

Creating some sort of “clean” or “renewable” energy standard has been a perennial topic for quite some time. Obama called for an 80 percent “clean energy” standard by 2035 in the last two State of the Union addresses. Meanwhile, Congress has proposed, then failed to pass, some form of the measure many times in the past 10 years. The exact percentages vary among the different versions of the bill, as do the types of energy that would qualify, with some including nuclear power or so-called “clean” coal as acceptable, and others just sticking with straight-up renewables. But the long and short of it is, despite trying to a decade, we haven’t been able to pass this sort of measure.

The researchers found that the average household pays $1,250 in electricity bills each year. So, $162 more isn’t an insubstantial sum, representing about a 13 percent price increase for them. They also found that respondents were willing to pay up to $199 more for a policy that only included renewables, but would only fork over $142 for a policy that included natural gas and $147 for a policy that included nuclear in the mix.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.