Greens’ poll shows support for renewable energy transition in swing states

Source: By Timothy Cama, The Hill • Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Most voters in a handful of swing states support transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy for their electricity needs, an environmental group found.

The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll, conducted on behalf of the Sierra Club in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Colorado, shows that most respondents in each state would back a state policy mandating 100 percent renewable electricity from sources like wind and solar power.

The support for the measures also grew in almost all of the states since similar polling last year.

While those surveyed who identify as Democrats were more likely to support the measures, a majority of Republican respondents in Ohio and Pennsylvania also support the 100 percent goal.

Voters are also more likely to back candidates who support 100 percent renewables, the survey found.

The results come as the midterm congressional elections are starting to ramp up and as the 2020 presidential election approaches. They serve as a potential warning to candidates to support renewable-energy policies or face possible voter backlash.

“The overarching message is that from the Colorado Rockies to the coast of Virginia, the public and the United States is ready for 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” Jodie Van Horn, director of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, told The Hill.

“We have a lot of different reasons to support that goal. The public knows that clean energy is not just an opportunity to solve the climate crisis, it’s also a way to create jobs and reduce pollution and stabilize our energy bills for the long haul.”

The 100 percent renewable goal has caught on in recent years in some circles, with dozens of cities around the country endorsing it, as well as some foreign countries.

Electricity systems are interconnected and most renewable sources are intermittent, so governments that commit to the 100 percent standard usually pledge to buy enough renewable electricity to meet their demands.

Studies led by Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson have estimated that 100 percent renewable energy is possible in almost all of the world within decades at a reasonable cost.

But other researchers, including a group led by Christopher Clack of grid modeling firm Vibrant Clean Energy, have criticized Jacobson’s methodology as too optimistic.

Van Horn defended the goal and said that a transition to clean electricity is possible and would carry numerous benefits.

“The economics, combined with public demand, as well as corporate demand, for renewable energy, is driving the transition to 100 percent renewable energy much faster than I think anybody anticipated,” she said.