WASHINGTON—Nearly 80 percent of Americans endorse the use of federal financial incentives to help jump-start construction of carbon-free energy technologies, according to a new national survey of 1,000 adults.
The survey shows that 79 percent of Americans believe “it is appropriate for the federal government to provide some financial assistance to jump-start nuclear, solar, wind and other carbon-free energy technologies in order to meet the national clean-air and carbon reduction goals and reduce the cost to consumers of building the facilities.” Only 18 percent of those surveyed do not support the use of federal incentives for this purpose, and three percent do not have an opinion.
The new telephone survey was conducted Oct. 19-22 by Bisconti Research Inc. with GfK and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
A majority of Americans rank the threat of climate change and air pollution as top energy-related concerns, the survey found. Asked to choose which of four issues seem “most important,” 57 percent of Americans named global warming among the top two concerns and 56 percent named air pollution as a first or second choice. Energy security was ranked first or second by 42 percent of respondents, while economic growth was selected by 40 percent of those surveyed.
“Given the priority status that Americans affix to air quality concerns, it’s not surprising that they voice such high levels of support for government assistance for carbon-free energy technologies,” said Bisconti Research President Ann Bisconti.
Americans voiced strong support for some of the specific mechanisms that Congress has approved to help stimulate construction of new electric-generating facilities.
The survey showed that 78 percent of Americans approve of government tax credits “as an incentive to companies to build solar, wind and advanced-design nuclear power plants.” Only 20 percent disapprove.
Similarly, 76 percent of Americans approve of federal loan guarantees for companies “that build solar, wind, advanced-design nuclear power plants or other energy technology that reduces greenhouse gases to jump-start investment in these critical energy facilities.” Again, only 20 percent disapprove.
The survey found that public support for preparing for and building new nuclear power plants remains strong. Seventy-five percent of Americans agree that electric companies should prepare now so that new nuclear plants could be built if needed within the next decade. In a national survey conducted last April, 71 percent agreed.
In the new survey, 62 percent of Americans agree “we should definitely build more nuclear power plants.” In last April’s survey, 56 percent of respondents agreed.
In the new survey, 59 percent said that, if a new power plant were needed to supply electricity, it would be acceptable to add a new reactor at the site of the nearest nuclear power plant that is already operating. Last April, 66 percent agreed.
A separate survey conducted by Bisconti Research in July and August showed that favorability is higher in communities where nuclear plants operate than it is among the general public. The summer survey of 1,1,52 people living within 10 miles of the nation’s nuclear power plant sites found that, on average across the 64 sites, 77 percent said we should definitely build more nuclear plants and 71 percent said a new reactor would be acceptable at the nearby plant.