BHI: Survey shows consumers willing to pay modest amount for renewable energy

BOSTON Seventy-six percent (76%) of Massachusetts voters are willing to pay at least 1% or more for electricity generated by renewable energy according to a poll conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center for the Beacon Hill Institute’s Economic Indicators project. Eighteen percent (18%) said they would not pay any more for such electricity, with 7% undecided.

However, just how much more voters are willing to pay in higher electricity costs for is open to debate.  Twenty-six percent (26%) of those surveyed suggest that they are willing to pay one to 10 percent more for alternative energy. However, the survey found that 17% were willing to more than double their electric bills in order to use energy created by wind, solar and biofuels.  Meanwhile, only 13% would pay between 10 and 20 percent and only 11% maintain that they would pay between 50 to 100 percent.

About 73% of the voters in southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod, who would putatively receive power generated by a proposed 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound, would pay more for renewable energy according to the survey. In Western Massachusetts and Worcester, 68% would pay more.

Meanwhile, the Institute estimates that winter energy costs – including heating oil, electricity, natural gas and gasoline – will rise 4%. Natural gas is expected to rise 16% over last November while electricity is expected to peak in February also rising 16% over last year. Heating oil price hikes are expected to remain in single digits percentage-wise. Lighting the Christmas tree and other holiday decorations will also cost 15% more with the average December electricity bill rising to $127.

BHI Economic Indicators combine polling data with under-reported economic data collected by the Institute and the Department of Economics at Suffolk University. The current issue also includes data on metropolitan employment and wage trends.

The statewide survey of 500 Massachusetts registered voters was conducted September 16-19, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.  BHI Economic Indicators is available at

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The Beacon Hill Institute engages in rigorous economic research and conducts educational programs for the purpose of producing and disseminating readable analyses of current public policy issues to voters, taxpayers, opinion leaders and policy makers.