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Poll says N.C. voters want more renewable energy

A new poll commissioned by sustainable-energy supporters says 83.8% of likely voters in North Carolina support efforts to increase alternative and renewable energy use in the state.

The same poll found that 79.2% of respondents favored the state’s renewable-energy portfolio standard. Some prominent conservative groups have called for repealing the standard, which requires that utilities produce 12.5% of the power they sell in the state from renewable sources or energy efficiency by 2021.

“North Carolinians in all regions of our state overwhelmingly support increasing the use of clean energy like solar and wind,” says Ivan Urlaub, executive director of the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, which commissioned the poll. “These resources will produce cleaner, home-grown energy sources for our people, but will also create thousands of new jobs, expand business opportunities and give us more stable, affordable electric bills.”

Energy legislation

Fallon Research polled 800 N.C. residents last week in a survey that Fallon says has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%.

The poll also asked likely voters about several energy bills proposed in the current session of the legislature. Urlaub says the “survey provides extremely useful information for our state’s elected officials and energy regulators regarding the energy policies our citizens want.”

The survey says 75.3% of the respondents favor a bill that would double the requirement for the use of solar power under the renewable portfolio standard. Supporters of the legislation say it will create local jobs at solar-energy companies and could help some companies avoid closing. The state’s principal utilities, Duke Energy and Progress Energy, have already contracted for all the solar power they need through 2014.

There was even more support, 85% of the respondents, for a bill that would allow renewable-energy developers to sell power directly to customers. The maximum size for a qualifying renewable project would be 2 megawatts. So large-scale power producers would have to continue to contract with a utility to buy their power for resale.

Supporters argue the bill would increase competition in power sales, reduce the need for new traditional plants built by the utilities and create more renewable-energy jobs.

Overall, 61.2% of those surveyed said they thought elected officials have done too little in recent years to encourage renewable-energy development.

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