According to the New York Times, a new study of public opinion found that people are willing to pay slightly more to switch to cleaner energy. The study evaluated public support for a national clean energy standard (NCES). Conducted by Yale and Harvard in 2011, researchers found that the average United States citizen was willing to pay $162 a year more to support a national policy requiring 80% “clean” energy by 2035. That would be approximately a 13% increase in electric bills.
Granted, the willingness is modest, and there were restrictions. Support dropped off when the definition of clean energy was expanded to include natural gas or nuclear power. Furthermore, the researchers conducted a “what-if” experiment that simulated voting behavior to test the levels of public support needed to get a clean energy measure passed over the entrenched opposition in Congress.
The issue of green energy is controversial, both in the initial implementation and the types and methods of obtaining green energy. Passing a controversial bill through the Senate would require 60 votes to break a filibuster- a simple majority would not be enough. The study estimated that the annual additional cost per household would have to drop below $59 a year to pass the Senate (with its current political leanings and makeup).
Currently, more than half the states have adopted renewable energy policies. Political support may increase in the future as green energy requirements imposed on utilities increases.
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