Power-use cuts rejected in rival poll over Ohio green-energy rules

April 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Two weeks after
Ohio “green” energy
advocates released a poll showing public support
for their agenda, opponents have released
their own poll that supports their position.

The big difference between the polls is that the new one emphasizes the costs of maintaining “
green” policies, in contrast to support for the policies themselves.

In the new poll, 68 percent of likely Ohio voters say the government should not require
consumers to cut energy use.

Also, 71 percent of respondents say that consumers should be able to decide whether to pay to
support energy-efficiency programs.

The poll sponsors, which include several statewide business groups, are trying to
push legislators to support Senate Bill 310, a measure that would stop annual
increases in state standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Senate Republican leaders
have said they would like to pass the bill in the next month or so.

“Ohioans support energy efficiency, as long as artificial charges are not placed on their bills
through government mandates,” said Keith Lake, vice president for government affairs at the Ohio
Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “The results of this poll show strong support for our
government to address these costly mandates.”

The new poll is based on interviews conducted in early January with 800 likely voters. The
margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

S.B. 310 has the support of business groups and businesses and is opposed by other business
groups, businesses, environmentalists and consumer advocates.

Two weeks ago, an opponent of the bill released a poll showing broad support in Ohio for
policies that encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency.

How could the two polls have such different results? It is a matter of how the questions are
framed, said Ted Ford, president and CEO of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, the business group behind
the poll two weeks ago.

He thinks this new poll nudges respondents to focus on the costs of programs and not the
benefits.

One of the questions asks, for example: “This year, Ohio’s residential electricity customers
will each pay about $45 per year on their bills to pay for the state mandated energy efficiency
programs. Estimates say that the programs may cost customers as much as $227 per year by 2025.
Knowing this: Do you agree or disagree that the government should mandate reductions in electricity
use by Ohio’s residential and businesses users?”

Sixty-eight percent of respondents answered “disagree.”

Ford’s group handled the same issue in its poll by saying that energy-efficiency programs cost “
approximately $2.50 per month” per household and then asking respondents whether they support the
use of this money to help customers “affordably make energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes and
businesses.”

In response, 83 percent said they were in favor of the charge.

dgearino@dispatch.com

@dispatchenergy

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