Public opinion watch: Wind, solar tally strong support in Rocky Mountain states

Public opinion polling in six Rocky Mountain states in January found strong backing for wind and solar power, according to a recent New York Times blog article by Nate Schweber.

The article detailed responses to the survey question, “Which one of the following sources of energy would you want to encourage the use of here in your state?” Either solar or wind power ranked #1 in every state polled, with the two sources finishing 1-2 in four states.

The poll was commissioned by Colorado College's State of the Rockies Project and looked at voters' views on public lands conservation and energy choices.

Overall, when respondents' first and second choices were combined, solar placed first, with 57 percent choosing it as either #1 or #2. Wind was second at 48 percent, followed by natural gas (27 percent), energy efficiency efforts (17 percent), oil (13 percent), nuclear (12 percent) and coal (11 percent).

Solar also racked up the highest level of support in any single state, with 74 percent of Arizona voters placing it #1 or #2. In New Mexico, solar was first at 56 percent, while in Colorado, wind and solar tied at 56 percent each.

The top three places in each state were as follows:

Arizona: Solar 74 percent, wind 43, natural gas 20.
Colorado: Solar 56, wind 56, natural gas 24.
Montana: Wind 53, natural gas 33, solar 29.
New Mexico: Solar 56, wind 43, natural gas 31.
Utah: Wind 47, solar 39, natural gas 39.
Wyoming: Wind 44, natural gas 42, solar 21.

Comments Mr. Schweber, “In a region where fossil fuel extraction has long been an economic linchpin, wind and solar ranked first in most states when voters were asked what two energy sources they wanted to see more money spent on. … 'Overwhelmingly, they’re pointing to renewables,' said Lori Weigel, a partner with Public Opinion Strategies, which regularly conducts polling for the Republican Party. The other polling firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, is associated with the Democratic Party.”

The poll surveyed attitudes of 2,400 voters in the six states.

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