Indiana poll finds overwhelming bipartisan support for wind energy

Results of an Indiana poll released today show strong and deep bipartisan public support for increasing wind farm development in the state through the passage of legislation calling for 10 percent of electricity sold in Indiana to come from renewable energy by 2020.

The results of the poll, conducted by research firm Public Opinion Strategies, come as the Indiana House and Senate prepare to take up energy legislation, Senate Bill 251, which currently does not create any market for renewable energy. After passing in the Senate, the bill now heads to the House, where it can be amended to establish a renewable energy requirement for which so many Hoosiers are showing strong support.

The poll found that 77 percent of Indiana voters support legislation creating a requirement for 10 percent renewable energy by the year 2020. An impressive 47 percent of voters "strongly" support such legislation, and just 16 percent oppose it. The results signal support among Hoosiers for harnessing the economic-development benefits of wind power and diversifying the state’s energy mix in a way that can save consumers money. A 10 percent renewable energy requirement would spur construction of approximately six new wind power farms and create thousands of jobs.

"Indiana voters clearly speak with one voice on this issue," said Neil Newhouse, Public Opinion Strategies pollster and co-founder. "Nearly 80 percent of voters interviewed say they support legislation requiring 10 percent of the electricity sold in the state to come from renewable energy such as wind and solar.

"Support is not only deep (47 percent strongly support such legislation), but also broad, as voters across party lines support the proposal by at least a three-to-one margin. Clearly this is a win-win issue for lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle."

The poll reflects recent national polls showing that as much as 89 percent of Americans want more renewable energy.

Key findings of the Indiana poll include:

*77 percent of Indiana voters support legislation requiring that 10 percent of electricity sold in the state come from renewable energy by 2020. Fully 47 percent of voters "strongly" support such legislation, while just 16 percent oppose it (9 percent strongly opposing it).

*A strong 66 percent of Republicans statewide support a 10-percent renewable energy requirement.

*Overall support for this legislation was above 70 percent in all regions of Indiana and between 77 percent and 79 percent in urban, suburban, and rural areas of the state.

*Statewide voter support rose to 84 percent when told that a 10 percent requirement would spur construction on six new wind farms in the next two years, creating thousands of new jobs.

*Support for legislation rose to 85 percent when voters were told that Indiana’s neighbors have secured long-term electricity contracts from wind power that costs significantly less than the average per kilowatt-hour price Hoosiers currently pay.

*Voter support for legislation rose to 83 percent when voters were informed that more than half of the wind energy generated in the state is currently used to deliver power to neighboring states with renewable energy requirements.

"The voice of Indiana and the voice of America are one," said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. "Hoosiers clearly want to embrace the economic-development engine that is wind power, and the industry stands ready to do its part here in America’s heartland.

"Twenty-nine other states already require their utilities to provide renewable energy. Our job now is to make sure that Indiana’s leaders take to heart the overwhelming support for a 10 percent renewable energy requirement as demonstrated in this poll. We appreciate Indiana voters’ support, and we will work with a bipartisan group of policymakers to provide the clean, affordable and homegrown energy they want."

Public Opinion Strategies conducted the poll by contacting 600 registered voters in Indiana by telephone on February 16-17. The margin of error of the poll is plus or minus 4.0 percent in 95 out of 100 cases. The partisan composition of the sample was 36 percent Republicans, 28 percent Democrats and 34 percent "Lean/Independent."