High percentages want more solar, wind, biomass and energy efficiency along with stronger policy

MADISON — Wide margins of Wisconsin voters say that they want to see Wisconsin meet more of its energy needs through clean, renewable sources like wind, solar and bioenergy and energy efficiency, according to a recent bipartisan poll. They are also more likely to support candidates who say they will promote more use of clean renewable energy like wind and solar power.

“From my experience at Johnson Controls talking with Wisconsin business leaders and energy end users, the message from this poll is exactly on target,” said Dean Henderson, LEED AP in the Building Efficiency, Commercial, division of Johnson Controls, a Wisconsin-headquartered Fortune 500 company.  “Voters want policies that help grow energy efficiency and clean energy for job growth and a sustainable future for our state. Let’s get it done.”

On clean energy and energy efficiency, voters showed clear support. To meet the state’s future energy needs:

  • 95 percent support an increase in the use of energy efficiency.
  • 88 percent support an increase in the use of solar energy.
  • 84 percent support an increase in the use of biomass energy from switchgrass, wood waste and other post-harvest remains.
  • 83 percent support an increase in the use of wind power.

“Voters clearly see Wisconsin’s potential to hold costs down, create jobs and become a more energy independent  state by expanding use of clean energy and energy efficiency,” said Keith Reopelle, Senior Policy Director for Clean Wisconsin. “Especially considering that Wisconsin currently imports more than $12 billion worth of fossil fuels every year, we have every reason to do what we can to create good middle income jobs through clean energy development that will shape Wisconsin’s future. Voters are seeing this, and the candidates should listen.”

Voters also spoke in heavy support of policy issues to drive the development of clean energy and energy efficiency:

  • 93 percent say home- and business-owners should have the right to install solar and pay for it how they choose.
  • 84 percent believe carbon pollution should be limited at power plants.
  • 73 percent want to see Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard rise from 10 percent to 30 percent.

“The clean energy industry is growing fast and many jobs are being created designing, developing, constructing, and operating clean renewable energy systems,” said John Kivlin, co-founder of Convergence Energy, a Lake Geneva, Wisc., solar development company focused on projects in the Midwest. “With friendly clean energy policies, more of those jobs will be created here instead of in neighboring states.”

Voters also are confident in the potential for job growth through clean energy and energy efficiency. Voters who believe renewable energy would be an economic driver for Wisconsin outnumber those who don’t by a 6-to-1 margin. Asked whether expanding energy efficiency projects would create jobs, the margin of voters who agreed versus those who don’t is 18-to-1.

“The polling results strongly suggest that Wisconsin voters recognize the economic and job-creation benefits of clean energy development in Wisconsin,” said Melissa VanOrnum, of DVO, Inc., a Chilton, Wis.-based engineering firm specializing in anaerobic digesters.

About the poll: The polling was conducted July 26 through Aug. 3 by a bipartisan research team comprised of Public Opinion Strategies (R) and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (D). The margin of error is +/- 4.9 percent, with more than 400 Wisconsin voters across the state taking part. The polling was done as part of nonpartisan outreach efforts to broaden the conversation on energy issues between candidates and voters throughout the Midwest. The poll can be viewed at https://cleanwisconsin.org/2014poll