California Still Green

Survey shows unwavering support

Bill Opalka | Jul 31, 2011

Share/Save  

The state that started it all -- California – is still at it. The Golden State, which started the modern renewable energy era and now has the most aggressive program in the country, is still at it.

A new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) was just released.

The Japanese nuclear disaster seems to have had an effect, eroding support for that technology and boosting renewable. California already has the most aggressive clean energy policies in the country, with a mandate for 33 percent renewables by the end of the decade.

In the wake of the Japanese nuclear crisis, support for building more nuclear power plants in California has dropped sharply. Today, 65 percent of adults oppose building more plants and 30 percent are in favor—the lowest level of support since PPIC began asking the question and a 14-point drop since last July (44% in favor).

"With spikes in gas prices at home and nuclear power failures in Japan, Californians are strongly supportive of policies that encourage more fuel efficiency and renewable energy,” says Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC.

Support is also strong (80%) for increased federal funding to develop renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydrogen technology. Solid majorities across parties, regions, and demographic groups hold this view. California policy requires that one-third of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2020. It gets the support of 77 percent of Californians. What if this policy results in higher electricity bills? Just under half (46%) of adults favor it.

The economic and political climate, of which California has had more than its share of troubles, has not materially diminished support for clean technologies. Most Californians continue to support the state’s climate change policy. Most believe global warming is a serious threat to the state’s future economy, with 47 percent seeing it as a very serious threat and 28 percent saying it is somewhat serious.

The principle behind AB 32—the California law requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—enjoys majority support (67% favor, 21% oppose, 11% don’t know). Most (57%) believe that the state government should make its own policies, separate from the federal government’s, to address global warming.

The effects of global warming have already begun in the view of 61 percent of adults. This is an increase of 7 points since last July (54%) but similar to previous years (61% in 2009, 64% in 2008, 66% in 2007, and 63% in 2006). Another 22 percent say the impact of global warming will occur sometime in the future: 4 percent say it will start within a few years, 7 percent say within their lifetime, and 11 percent say it will affect future generations. Twelve percent say it will never occur. Across parties, Democrats (69%) and independents (62%) are far more likely than Republicans (40%) to say the effects of global warming have already begun. The view that the effects of global warming have begun is up 10 points among Republicans, up 7 points among independents, and similar to last year among Democrats.

Residents overwhelmingly favor (79%) government regulation of the release of greenhouse gases from sources such as power plants, cars, and factories to reduce global warming. Strong majorities favor several options under discussion at the state and federal level to address climate change: requiring utilities to increase their use of renewable energy (82%), industry to reduce emissions (82%), and automakers to reduce emissions from new cars (81%).

The editorial staff at RenewablesBiz.com is passionate about exchanging ideas and dedicated to promoting ongoing conversation about renewables and sustainable energy issues. We invite you to join and contribute to our online community. If you have an idea for an article or editorial contribution, please contact me via email, bopalka@energycentral.com, or phone, 860.633.0090.

Related Topics

Comments

Should California Go Green?

Advocates for fossil-fired generation say no.  Advocates for renewable energy say yes.  Both tend to bend the facts to suit their purposes.

A couple of facts.  First, the cost of solar and wind are falling while the cost of fossil-fired generation has started climbing again.  Second, if gas is the alternative to renewables, we're placing big bets on public acceptance of hydraulic fracturing and we're also betting that wells drilled in shale gas formations behave like wells drilled in more conventional formations.  In fact, any kind of drilling entails risks, and perhaps one way to hold drillers accountable for safety is to require them live and deal with the same risks local residents face.  If they say the water is safe, let's ensure they serve it to their families.

Nuclear is off the table until someone comes up with a small, modular reactor that can be built at reasonable cost and the waste management problem is solved.  I'm not convinced nuclear power is as dangerous as the fear-mongers claim, but it is expensive, and the perception that it is dangerous means plants cannot be built at costs that make economic sense.

Subsidies for renewable energy are likely to be diminished, just as they are going to be scaled  back for fossil-fuels.  We'll learn to live with it.  Developers will find ways to make money with or without the credits.  Other than the hell-bent-for-leather timetable that's not allowing an orderly transition, I think the 33% standard will work out just fine.

Jack Ellis, Tahoe City, CA

CA Still Green

Wise(er) people may well want to reconsider Nuclear as an option - at least to make sure that disabling events are considered in combinations rather than as singular occurences.

If California is smart enough to get the rest of the country - the parts that believe that 1) we can drill or excavate ourselves to self sufficiency (though both will continue even under the most optimistic renewables scenarios), and 2) somehow Global warming is a joke perpetrated by really smart people on really not-so-smart ones (What is causing the meltdown of the polar ice caps?) then hurrah for California. They are not the only ones: in NY the System Benefits Charge (SBC) helped underwrite about one third of my solar install oh, and the Federal Goverment 30% of the remainder.. I just wish that the meter and billing could be paid by those whose attention to the isses is limited to crabbing about their energy costs while seeking no solutions.

As far as moving to Texas, why? It has had the most unseasonably hot weather ever coupled with a crippling drought. this year. (And Califonians have been leaving for quite a while now - as in Ft Carson CO was nicknamed Ft California.)

All this is fluff - the point of the article and study was that there was and remains a high level of support for renewables. To refer to an RPS of 33% as insanity, then what is "sane"?

My definition of a sane level is one where we are not shipping billions if not trillions a year to medevial governments in unstable regions whose only common goal is to "bury us" (to borrow from a former USSR adversary).

If you oppose renewables - presumably only the subsidy aspect - then remove those subsidies the oil companies receive along with every other industry segment that has enough clout to get such support.

D'oh....California Persists Toward Bankruptcy

"Support is also strong (80%) for increased federal funding to develop renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydrogen technology."

Translation: Calfornians think taxpayers across the nation should subsidize their 33% RPS insanity.

"Most Californians continue to support the state’s climate change policy. Most believe global warming is a serious threat to the state’s future economy, with 47 percent seeing it as a very serious threat and 28 percent saying it is somewhat serious."

Translation: Most Californians have little to no capacity for critical thinking.

"The effects of global warming have already begun in the view of 61 percent of adults"

Translation: Religious-similar belief systems have displaced fact/science as the governing means by which decisions are made in California.

Meanwhile, Californians are leaving California in droves. Please don't come to Texas.