May 5, 2014

Poll: 72 Percent of Ohioans Support Current Clean Energy Rules

Renewable-energy backers tout support as Ohio Senate considers proposal that would rewrite requirements.

More than 70 percent of Ohioans support the state’s renewable-energy requirements, according to a poll paid for by a clean-energy business group.

The poll results were released this week as the Ohio Senate is considering a proposal that would rewrite the requirements.

State law says that electricity utilities must meet an escalating series of benchmarks for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The proposal would freeze the benchmarks at current levels, canceling what would otherwise be 11 more years of increases.

“Simply put, Ohio’s clean-energy law is working. It’s saving money for consumers, creating jobs and making Ohio competitive. And now, we can demonstrate that the voting public strongly supports it, too,” said Ted Ford, president and CEO of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, the group that paid for the poll.

Among the results:
• 72 percent of voters support the clean-energy rules are they stand.
• 72 percent say Ohio should continue to replace traditional energy sources, such as coal, with other sources such as wind and solar.
• 66 percent say they are more likely to support a legislative candidate who wants to promote renewable energy.

When asked what percentage of Ohio’s electricity should come from renewable sources, nearly 1 in 5 respondents said it should be 100 percent. The average of all responses to the question was that renewable energy should be 56.4 percent.

The current level of power coming from renewable sources is 2.5 percent.

The proposal, Senate Bill 310, has the support of several prominent business groups and businesses, including FirstEnergy, the Akron-based utility. It is opposed by several other business groups, environmentalists and consumer advocates.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” said Doug Colafella, a FirstEnergy spokesman, in a statement responding to the poll. “Many of our customers are unaware they are being taxed every month on their electric bill to fund these programs — whether they use them or not.  These charges amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in extra charges on their bills every year, with no end in sight.”

The poll was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, which has offices in California and Wisconsin. The results are based on a sample of 600 Ohioans interviewed this month by telephone — both landlines and cellphones. The pollster says the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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