Wisconsin says ‘Yes!’ to wind power

In a new statewide public opinion poll, residents of Wisconsin overwhelmingly endorsed wind energy, despite recent action by the state’s legislature that has caused the developers of two wind farm plants to shelve their wind turbines projects in recent weeks.

The Spring 2011 Wisconsin Survey sampled the opinions of 400 Wisconsinites by telephone, and was conducted by St. Norbert College for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Results from the energy section of the survey were as follows:

Asked whether Wisconsin should "increase, decrease or continue with the same amount" of energy supply from various sources, 77% favored increasing wind power, the highest of any option (60% favored increasing hydropower, 54% biomass, 39% natural gas, 27% nuclear, and 19% coal).

Out of those who favored increasing wind power or keeping it the same, 83% said it will help decrease reliance on foreign oil, 82% that it will decrease reliance on coal and natural gas, 89% that it will help the environment, and 77% that it will create jobs in Wisconsin.

Asked whether they would favor or oppose eight to 10 wind turbines "being located close to where you live," 69% of all respondents would favor, 25% oppose. To the question of whether wind turbines should be placed in Lake Michigan to supply electricity to Wisconsin, 79% said yes, 12% no.

Sixty-eight percent of those polled said they would be willing to pay $2/month more on their utility bills to "significantly increase the state’s use of wind energy," and 51% would pay $5/month.

The results mirror those of nationwide polls and surveys in other states, but are more significant coming after a recent period during which wind power has been the subject of debate in the Wisconsin media.

By Tom Gray, www.awea.org/blog/