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article imageUtility survey shows majority of Americans want renewable energy

By Karen Graham     Oct 5, 2018 in Business
While Americans are almost manic in their political beliefs, there is one thing the majority does agree on — and that is renewable energy. It is clean, high-tech, it provides jobs and it is the future — and new research shows Americans want it right n
It seems that not a day goes by that another company, global corporation, city, country or state commit to 100 percent renewable energy. In the United States, of over 80 cities making the commitment, six have already achieved that goal.
Now the target dates vary, from 2020 to 2050, but taken as a whole, they are beginning to add up. And here's the thing — even if policymakers never force utilities to produce renewable power through mandates, if all the biggest customers demand renewable power, the utility companies will be mandated to produce it.
The shift is industry-wide
Believe it or not, but this situation has created a great deal of alarm with many utility companies. And this is not to say there are some very visionary utilities that have grasped the bull by the horns and are making headway in the shift to renewables, but they are still in the minority.
Duke Energy today announced plans to install North Carolina s two largest battery energy storage sys...
Duke Energy today announced plans to install North Carolina's two largest battery energy storage systems.
Duke Energy
Utilities don't like being told they have to do something within a certain amount of time, and most of them don’t believe the technology exists to make 100 percent renewables work reliably. They still believe that to cover the variability of renewables, even with storage batteries, the grid would still have to be balanced with natural gas-fueled power plants.
But perhaps the biggest worry utilities have on their mind is "stranded assets." Going to 100 percent renewables would mean shutting down all their fossil fuel-powered generating stations. To make a long story short, "Americans want renewable electricity, and they want it now," according to Green Car Reports.
An Industry searching for a message
A research study was conducted by Maslansky & Partners , a market research firm, was done at the request of the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group for utilities. The study analyzed existing utility messaging, interviewed utility execs and environmentalists, ran a national opinion survey, including a couple of three-hour sit-downs with “media-informed customers"..
The results of the research were distributed at the annual fall meeting of EEI board members and executives. According to, the results are "striking."
The survey and polling show quite clearly where public opinion stands on renewables, with 70 percent of those polled saying they were in favor of 100 percent renewables. Vox points out: "Renewables are a public opinion juggernaut. Being against them is no longer an option. The industry’s best and only hope is to slow down the stampede a bit (and that’s what they plan to try)."
As for the utility companies messages, it seems to center around what they are saying to the public in the way of excuses for why they aren't moving faster in embracing renewables. Today's consumer is smart and technology-savvy. The survey tested various ways the utility companies could explain to customers why they are moving so slow in walking toward renewables:
So it comes down to the public not wanting to hear a message full of excuses for why something can't be done. As Vox's David Roberts writes, “The decarbonization ship has sailed. Renewable energy is in the vanguard and, at least for now, it appears unstoppable. At this point, it is difficult to imagine what could turn the public against it. The more relevant question is when lawmakers will catch on to renewable energy’s full political potential."
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