Household Preferences for Supporting Renewable Energy, and Barriers to Green Power Demand

May 9, 2002 - 12:00pm
Bldg. 90

Nearly 40% of the U.S. populace now has the ability to voluntarily purchase renewable energy either through their electric utility or by switching electricity providers. While 80% of U.S. residents typically express some willingness to pay for renewable energy, just 1% of those same residents have actually participated in such voluntary ”green power” programs. One possible reason for this discrepancy is that U.S. residents prefer to pay for renewable energy collectively rather than to pay voluntarily through green power programs. Perhaps standard policy efforts [e.g., renewables portfolio standards (RPS) and system benefits charges (SBC)] are preferred. Other possible reasons include a lack of awareness of available green power options, and a lack of trust in the green power providers.This talk analyzes the payment preferences of U.S. residents and identifies key barriers to green power demand. The preferences of U.S. residents for supporting renewable energy through RPS and SBC policies are compared to preferences for voluntary green power programs. The study also identifies other important barriers to growing the green power market. The talk is based on a sizable mail survey of U.S. residents, using the contingent valuation method; this survey represents one of the most comprehensive attempts to explore the attitudes of U.S. residents towards renewable energy.

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