Likely voters in the 2012 election cycle overwhelmingly support solar energy and would like to see the federal government do more to foster the growing industry, according to a national poll released today. The survey, conducted by independent polling firm Hart Research Associates, showed for the fifth consecutive year that Americans maintain a very favorable view of solar energy and government efforts to encourage the industry’s growth.
The poll found that more than nine out of 10 (92 percent) of likely voters feel that the U.S. should develop and use more solar energy. This support was strong across the political spectrum with 84% of Republicans, 95% of independents, and 98% of Democrats agreeing.
“American voters have spoken loud and clear – they love solar and they want more of it. Republicans, independents, and Democrats are unified in calling on Congress to increase our use of solar energy in America,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA.
Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, said, “These results clearly show that American voters across the political spectrum have a strong favorable view of solar energy and the solar industry, and they believe that government has an important role to play in allowing this industry to grow and succeed.”
“The consistency of these findings is also impressive,” said Molly O’Rourke, partner at Hart Research. “Voters express the same high levels of support across a variety of measures, from their very positive perceptions of solar energy to their enthusiasm for policies that promote greater use of solar.”
Voters’ favorable view of solar translates directly into widespread bipartisan support for federal incentives fostering solar energy. Nearly four out of five (78%) of voters say the government should provide tax credits and financial incentives to encourage the development and use of solar energy. Fully two-thirds of swing voters (67%) chose solar above any other energy source to receive tax and financial incentives.
While voters were unsure about the affordability of solar, Resch says the industry has a good story to tell as costs continue to fall dramatically, making solar an affordable option for millions of families and businesses.
“As an industry, we need to get the word out across the country that solar is an affordable and reliable choice today – not just in California,” said Resch. “Solar is cost-competitive today whether you’re in Phoenix, Arizona or Dayton, Ohio. Families and companies are seeing real savings every day thanks to their decision to go solar.”
The Hart Research poll of 1,206 U.S. voters, including an oversample of swing voters (resulting in 762 swing voter interviews) has a margin of error of ± 2.8%. The swing voter sample included only those respondents who did not indicate a strong or consistent partisan voting history. The poll was conducted online September 4 to 9 and was commissioned by SEIA.
The four prior annual polls examining American attitudes towards solar were conducted by Kelton Research for SEIA and SCHOTT Solar.
Today more than 100,000 Americans work at 5,600 solar energy companies across the nation in all 50 states. The industry more than doubled the amount of solar installed in the U.S. in the second quarter of this year compared to 2011, and growth is expected to continue in the second half of 2012.
The average system price of solar has dropped 50 percent since 2007. Innovations in system financing have made solar more affordable than ever before. The top 10 states for total solar electric capacity are (in descending order): California, New Jersey, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina.
SEIA created the following infographic using the data from the survey: