Poll: Idahoans oppose wind energy if it costs more

October 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A new poll commissioned by The Idaho Statesman shows consumers in the Gem State are less enthusiastic about wind energy if it means paying a little extra on their monthly utility bills.

In addition, a majority of respondents had a favorable attitude toward Idaho Power Co., the state’s biggest utility, and the state agency charged with regulating the industry, the newspaper reported in a story this week (http://bit.ly/XkA3ZA).

In interviews done last week, 30 percent of respondents said they would support requiring Idaho Power to use less coal power and more renewable sources such as wind power to benefit the environment, even if it meant an increase in utility rates.

The newspaper reported that 62 percent opposed restrictions on coal, with 8 percent saying they were undecided.

The poll conducted by Washington, D.C.,-based Mason-Dixon Polling Research surveyed 625 people last week who said they were likely to vote in the Nov. 6 election. The poll had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

As alternative energy options have expanded in Idaho with the growth of wind farms, utilities have started challenging some government requirements to buy wind power. Idaho Power has been forced by federal law to add more than 400 megawatts of wind power to its system in the past five years, but the company claims doing so is increasing costs, which are then passed on to consumers.

The utility has asked the Public Utilities Commission to reduce the price it pays for wind power, shorten the contract period, and even curtail the requirement that the company buy power from existing wind plants when it means turning off cheaper coal plants.

But alternative energy companies are fighting back, saying the utilities’ demands to skirt their obligations to buy power from wind farms are a threat to a new and growing business.

In recent years, Idaho lawmakers refused to extend state tax credits to alternative energy developers and considered a moratorium on new wind farms amid backlash from some residents frustrated with the appearance of wind turbines near homes.

Opinions on alternative energy among by poll respondents show division along political party lines.

The newspaper reported 75 percent of Democrats support replacing coal with alternative sources, compared to just 12 percent of respondents identifying themselves as Republicans.

“It’s pretty clear that when it comes to so-called green energy attitudes, voters are very polarized along party identification lines,” said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon.

The poll found that 53 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of Idaho Power, compared to 23 percent unfavorable, with 24 percent having no opinion.

The poll also found a majority have a positive attitude toward the Public Utilities Commission, with 61 percent approving of how the agency regulates electricity rates and protects customers. That compares to 20 percent who disapprove, and 19 percent who said they weren’t sure.


Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

Comments are closed.