Public Opinion Watch: Stanford poll finds strong support for renewable energy tax credits

A recent poll on public attitudes toward climate change by researchers at Stanford (Calif.) University has found a very strong majority of Americans (73 percent) favoring “the federal government giving companies tax breaks to produce more electricity from water, wind, and solar power.”

The idea of tax breaks for renewable energy companies also was the most popular among a list of 12 policy options offered in the poll.  The
levels of support for the other policy proposals appearing in the survey were as follows:

Requiring or encouraging with tax breaks the lowering of the amount of greenhouse gases that power plants are allowed to release into the atmosphere: 70 percent.
Requiring or encouraging with tax breaks the building of new homes and offices that use less energy for heating and cooling: 67 percent.
Requiring or encouraging with tax breaks the making of cars that use less gas: 65 percent.
Requiring or encouraging with tax breaks the making of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other appliances that use less electricity: 65 percent.
Giving tax breaks to companies that burn coal to make electricity if they use new methods to put the air pollution they generate into underground storage areas instead of letting that air pollution go up the smokestacks at their factories: 59 percent.
Requiring or encouraging with tax breaks the making of cars that run entirely on electricity: 53 percent.
Giving companies tax breaks to build nuclear power plants: 43 percent.
Increasing taxes on gasoline so that people use less, or buy cars that use less gas: 26 percent.
Increasing taxes on electricity so that people use less of it: 18 percent.

The poll's results are good news for the wind power industry, which is battling to secure an extension of its primary incentive, the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).  The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of electricity production from utility-scale turbines, and is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress extends it first. A recent study by Navigant Consulting found that extending the Production Tax Credit will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration would kill 37,000 jobs within a year.

Support for all policy options listed, and concern about the problem of climate change, was down from a similar survey conducted in 2010.  The poll's results with respect to wind and other sources of clean energy were broadly similar to those from a number of other public opinion polls, as detailed under “Related articles” below.

The telephone survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs in two rounds in February and March.  In each round, over 1,000 respondents were interviewed.

Related articles:

Public Opinion Watch: Montana, Western polls find strong renewable energy support, March 27, 2012
Public opinion watch: Ontarians: Wind power one of safest forms of electricity generation
, March 6, 2012
Public Opinion Watch: Wind farms poll best in survey of attitudes toward energy projects
, October 18, 2011
Public Opinion Watch: Marylanders back offshore wind
, October 12, 2011
Public Opinion Watch: Vermonters choose wind power
, August 17, 2011
Two-thirds of consumers would pay more for products made with wind energy, global survey finds
, July 6, 2011
Public Opinion Watch: Iowa voters overwhelmingly back wind energy
, July 1, 2011
Public Opinion Watch: Wisconsin says “Yes!” to wind power
, April 25, 2011

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