According to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, Americans are willing to pay for slightly higher electricity bills for clean energy. The survey, led by researchers from Yale and Harvard, asked this question: would consumers be interested in a law requiring utilities to source 80 percent of their power from sources including nuclear, solar and wind by 2035? The results indicated that on average, Americans are willing to pay an extra $162 more a year for an energy policy that mandated 80 percent of electricity is generated from renewables by 2035.

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The researchers, Yale’s Matthew Kotchen and Andrew Leiserowitz and Harvard’s Joseph Aldy, found that the maximum amount citizens were willing to pay to ramp up renewable energy production was under $14 a month. The trio asked respondents questions about their support for a national clean energy standard (NCES), and they also provided different descriptions of the bill with various price tags. The 1,010 American surveyed last year also were provided three different versions of clean energy: renewables alone; renewables with natural gas; and renewables with nuclear.

The results show that Americans are ahead of Congress when it comes to a clean energy policy. Bills that would establish a NCES standard have been floated recently in both the House and the Senate, but politicians have only been willing to see electricity rates increase an average of $50 to $60 annually.

The rates Americans are willing to pay vary by demographics and geographic location. Senior citizens, non-whites and Republicans showed lower enthusiasm for a NCES. Support for such a policy decreased when natural gas and nuclear were included in the mix in addition to the rates citizens are willing to pay for such a policy. And the popularity of a new clean energy policy depended on the congressional district in which the respondent lives. Nevertheless, the survey shows that Americans support such programs as a feed-in tariff as long as the increases are not too steep.

Nature Climate Change

Via Washington Post

Photos courtesy Wikimedia (U.S. Air Force, Windtech)