New Statewide Poll Shows Strong Support for Cleaner, Cheaper Energy

{posted on: February 28, 2013}

Charlotte, NC – In a new statewide poll of over 600 North Carolina consumers, respondents expressed both a strong desire for the North Carolina Utilities Commission to help low-income residents as well as their support for cleaner and cheaper energy alternatives to those being proposed by Duke Energy and Progress Energy.

The Utilities Commission is currently reviewing Duke and Progress Energy’s integrated resources plans (IRPs) which are their long-term plan for servicing customers in North Carolina. A public hearing is being held at 7 PM this evening at the Mecklenburg County Court House, 832 E. 4th St. in courtroom 5310, Charlotte.

When asked who the North Carolina Utilities Commission should most try to help in setting rates, 67% of survey respondents said low-income people and seniors on fixed incomes, 11% said small business, 5% said local government and schools, and 2% said large businesses and industries.

“What we are seeing in practice is that regulators are doing the exact opposite of what North Carolinians are calling for. They are taking money from residential consumers and giving it to big business and company shareholders,” said Bill Gupton, Outreach Director for Consumers Against Rate Hikes.

Duke has been widely criticized in public hearings for not making a commitment to cleaner and cheaper energy sources as their plans rely on old coal plants and new gas and nuclear plant construction.

When respondents were asked whether electric companies should invest consumers’ money in making homes more energy efficient or in building new power plants, 66% preferred making homes more energy efficient compared to 20% who preferred building new power plants.

Similarly, when asked what should be the highest priority for state energy policy and given the choice between renewable energy, new nuclear plants, and fracking to get natural gas, 53% chose renewables, 14% chose new nuclear plants, and 21% chose fracking to get natural gas.

Bill Gupton said “The public feels we are headed down the wrong road to our energy future. We will hear a public outcry tonight, as we did at the previous hearing in Raleigh, that Duke and Progress’s plans are woefully lacking in energy efficiency and renewables and instead favor serial rate hikes to build risky and expensive power plants.  The public hates these plans for all the right reasons and the Commission needs to listen.”

The telephone poll was conducted February 25-27, by Public Policy Polling for Consumers Against Rate Hikes, a coalition of consumer, environmental and religious groups. The sample size was 601 with a margin of error of 4%. Of those polled, 23% described themselves as liberal and 43% described themselves as conservative. Full poll results are available upon request.

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See the full poll results here and background information here.