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A Guide for Municipal Utility Leaders: Electric Municipal Utilities & the Transition to a Clean Energy Future
Transitioning to clean energy can create a more flexible, economic, and resilient electricity system. Small and mid-sized cities can enjoy safer, cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable service. Municipal utility leaders face unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to making the most of this transition. This resource is designed to provide a guide for municipal utilities seeking to make responsible, forward-looking planning decisions and investments within a clean energy transition while meeting their bedrock obligations to ensure reliable service in an economic manner. Benefits to consumers can include lower utility bills, healthier homes, and reduced energy burdens, especially for low-income residents. Benefits to communities can include local jobs, cleaner air and water, healthier communities, and climate change mitigation and resilience. Benefits to utilities can include cost savings, lower financial risk, reduced policy risk, energy security, resilience to weather disasters, and protection from fuel supply shortages.
A Guide for Cooperative Leaders: Rural Electric Cooperatives and the Transition to a Clean Energy Future
Rural electric cooperatives are foundational institutions within their communities. Cooperatives serve as energy providers and a cornerstone of economic development and community well-being. Today, the electric utility industry — including rural cooperatives — is undergoing a transformation that is on par with some of the biggest industrial transformations in history, and cooperative directors are on the forefront of that transition. This paper is designed to provide a guide for electric cooperative directors seeking to make responsible, forward-looking planning decisions and investments within a clean energy transition – while delivering more flexible, resilient, and economic service to member-owners. Rural electric cooperatives ground their work in the seven cooperative principles: Open and voluntary membership; Democratic member control; Members’ economic participation; Autonomy and independence; Education, training and information; Cooperation among cooperatives; Concern for community.
Florida voters widely agree that the state’s utilities depend too much on fossil fuels for electricity and support expanding the use of solar energy in the state. 76% support expanding solar usage on state buildings. 76% want policymakers to create an energy independence plan for the state. 75% agree that Florida utilities depend too much on fossil fuels for electricity. 71% support expanded use of solar energy across the state. 70% support allowing businesses and organizations to finance small solar projects on their property. 65% support lower taxes and fees on electric vehicles.
California voters lean toward keeping nuclear energy in the state’s power mix, while their support for natural gas has declined. The poll encouragingly finds that voters overwhelmingly approve of solar (91% approve, including 73% who say they “definitely” approve of it) and wind (81% approve, including 67% who “definitely” approve of it) being used as electricity sources for the state. A clear majority also approve of natural gas as an electricity source (71% approve), though with considerably less enthusiasm (40% “definitely” approve) than they feel about solar and wind. Californians are relatively more split in their feelings about nuclear power, but over half approve of it being included in the state’s energy mix (54% approve / 36% disapprove). The poll release also includes time-series trend data from 2013 for comparison. This trend data shows that, over the past nine years, Californians’ approval of nuclear (51% to 54%, +3) and solar (94% to 91%, -3) has barely budged, while there’s been a dip in approval of wind power (92% to 84%, -8) and a more sizable drop in approval of natural gas (89% to 71%, -18).
A survey of 600 registered voters in Massachusetts showed voters remain concerned about climate change and optimistic about renewable energy.
Voters want the federal government to prioritize financial support for renewables over fossil fuels and continue to support “direct pay” reforms to make it easier for clean energy power providers to access federal tax credits. Voters want the federal government to financially incentivize clean energy production over fossil fuel extraction: when asked to choose, 58% believe the federal government should provide more of its financial support to power providers that primarily generate electricity from clean sources and 34% believe that financial support should be more focused on power providers that primarily generate electricity from oil, gas, and coal. After reading that “most businesses can’t take advantage of their clean energy tax credits directly and must strike deals with banks to get the benefits,” 71% support reforms that “would make it easier for power providers to access the government’s clean energy tax credits.” Support for these reforms spans the political spectrum, with 85% of Democrats, 70% of independents, and 57% of Republican voters in favor. Encouragingly, the poll also finds that support for “direct pay” reforms stands up to arguments that the reforms aren’t necessary. After reading the statements below from supporters and opponents of “direct pay” reforms, 65% of voters continue to support reforms to the clean energy tax credit system with just 23% opposed.
This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including a new international sustainability poll from POLITICO and Morning Consult, findings about the public’s reactions to different terms for methane gas, and state-level polls in Indiana, Maryland, and Wisconsin.
Voters nationwide support the Clean Electricity Performance Program to incentivize clean energy goals for utilities. Supporters have winning arguments to use against pushback. More new national polling from Data for Progress here shows that voters support a Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) by a 66%-24% margin when it is explained to them as a program wherein “utility companies that meet certain clean energy performance goals would be given incentives from the government, while those that fail to comply will be required to pay a penalty.” The top-testing pro-CEPP message in the experiment, which respondents said was more convincing than the opposition message by a 16-point margin (52%-36%), focused on the need to stand up for consumers and the planet in the face of corporate greed: “Utility companies say they are transitioning to clean energy, but they care more about their profits than your energy bills or climate change. We need the CEPP to create an electricity grid that is more reliable, cheaper, and better for the planet.”
This post includes a roundup of climate + environment headlines from this week’s public polls, good data points to highlight, and a full roundup including key takeaways from each poll.
- Climate Power + LCV - Investments in clean energy, climate action, and environmental justice bolster support for the reconciliation bill; the most persuasive messages focus on economic aspects including how the bill will lower costs for households (Slide Deck)
- Climate Power + Data for Progress - Voters support a range of climate-related proposals that were left out of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, especially clean electricity incentives, investments in energy efficiency, and investments in solar and wind (Release, Memo, Topline)
- POLITICO + Morning Consult - Voters continue to back the bipartisan infrastructure bill, especially investments in roads, bridges, and water infrastructure; voters are more split on the reconciliation package, but overwhelmingly support expanded home care for the elderly and disabled (Topline, Crosstabs)
- Data for Progress - Voters think that oil and gas companies have too much power, especially after learning about comments made by a senior Exxon lobbyist; “oil and gas companies” are a more compelling villain than “fossil fuel companies” (Release, Topline)
- Yale Program on Climate Change Communication + George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication - Petition signing is the most appealing ask to get voters involved in climate advocacy, and there is clear interest in community preparedness groups (Summary, Full Report)
Opposition to energy infrastructure is often labeled by developers as NIMBYism, but frontline communities have legitimate concerns and risk perceptions, or are left out of democratic decision making processes. In cases involving the siting of power lines, community groups are most successful in stopping the line or achieving remediation when they build broad coalitions of support within and outside of their communities and/or have government support at any level (including local, state or provincial, federal, and Indigenous).