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Q: What is more popular than Solar? A: Nothing!

10/02/12

  03:12:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 483 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Tax Incentives, SEIA, Ranting

Q: What is more popular than Solar? A: Nothing!

In this intense election season, we are accustomed to seeing lots of polls tracking the day-to-day changes in the “horse race” of the political process. But while various candidates struggle to “break out” of the pack, solar energy is an overwhelming consensus winner with strong support from 92% of the electorate - and when was the last time that 92% of us agreed on anything?  Given that tomorrow night’s debate turns on domestic issues, it will be interesting to see how this issue plays, if at all.

We base our observation on a poll that was recently conducted by Hart Research Associates (Hart) for the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).  (You can find the poll results here.)  The Hart poll got responses online from 1,206 registered voters, including an oversample of so-called “swing” voters (people who did not indicate a strong or consistent partisan voting history).  The margin of error was ±2.8%.

Solar Enjoys Unprecedented Bi-Partisan Support

Support for solar among voters cuts across party lines.  98% of Democrats and 95% of Independents think it is very important or somewhat important for the U.S. to develop and use solar power - but even among Republicans, support was at a very impressive 84%. And voters think that energy issues should be a factor in this year’s Presidential election with 27% saying such issues are one of the most important while another 47% say they are very important.

Coal is Upside Down

Despite an aggressive and well-funded ad campaign to support the quaint notion of “clean coal", of all of the different energy sources surveyed, only coal is upside down on its favorability rating: 34% of the electorate has an unfavorable view of coal, compared to only 32% with a favorable opinion.  Solar energy, on the other hand, is on the opposite end of the spectrum, with 85% having a favorable opinion and only a miniscule 4% unfavorable.  Here are the overall results:

Chart of favorable-unfavorable ratings for different energy types

Interestingly, the three greenest energy sources are at the top of the list while the two dirtiest, coal and oil are at the bottom.

Talk is Cheap, It Takes Money to Buy Solar Panels

As nice as it is to be supported, perhaps a more pressing question for policy makers/candidates is this: Which, if any, of these forms of energy should the federal government support through tax subsidies?  Once again, solar energy was the clear winner with a full 64% of all voters (67% among swing voters) supporting federal tax subsidies for solar.  In contrast, only 8% overall support subsidies for coal (4% of swing voters) and just 13% for oil (9% among swing voters).  Yet subsidies for the coal and oil industries dwarf those provided to all renewable energy sectors overall and solar in particular.  Here’s the overall chart:

support for energy subsidies

These results, if not surprising, are nevertheless gratifying, particularly in an election year.  We can only hope that voters will determine where the candidates stand on support for all energy sources, particularly solar, and use that knowledge to inform their vote next month.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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