HONOLULU – Hawaii voters overwhelming support solar power generation and would welcome efforts to make the abundant renewable energy resource more affordable and more accessible, according to a new survey conducted for The Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP) and the Sierra Club of Hawai’i.
The survey found that nearly all voting residents – an astonishing 96 percent – supported solar as an energy source, which is significantly higher than the national average.  According to a Gallup poll conducted in March, 76 percent of Americans want the U.S. to put more emphasis on solar production.  While that percentage is high, it pales in comparison to solar support in Hawaii.
“We rarely see this kind of unanimity in public opinion research,” noted Grace McRae, Senior Polling & Research Strategist at the Sierra Club’s Legislative Office in Washington, D.C.  “That Hawaii residents had such strong support for solar energy speaks volumes about its popularity and its effectiveness in reducing our nation’s dependence on costly imported fossil fuels.”
What was also striking about the survey, which was conducted in late September, was the high percentage of voters – 85 percent – who believe efforts should be made to make renewable energy such as solar power more affordable for consumers.  Only nine
percent of respondents felt that nothing should be done to change the cost of solar power.
“We should do everything we can to make this clean and abundant energy source accessible and affordable for more residents, organizations and businesses,” said John White, Executive Director of PRP.  “The upside of more solar adoption is huge. It helps families save money, creates jobs and generates positive economic activity for the state.”
“Solar is not just good for the environment, but smart fiscal policy,” said Robert Harris, Director of the Sierra Club of Hawai’i. “These projects save residents money, and help move Hawaii away from the high cost of imported fossil fuels. We should be doing everything we can to accommodate solar installations.”
“We’ve heard it loud and clear from voters that they want to install solar,” said Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Committee.
“The Legislature is committed to looking at policies this year that overcome current hurdles and ensure that our residents can continue to go green and save money with solar.”
Six out of seven voters – or 85 percent – also supported a “net metering” incentive for customers with solar panels.  Customers with solar panels use net metering to track how much energy they use and produce.  If they generate more electricity than they use, customers receive a credit on their electricity bill. If customers use more electricity than their solar panels generate, then they are charged for the electricity.
Meanwhile, a significant number of voters – 82 percent – were opposed to the introduction of any kind of sun tax or sun charge. Opposition was expressed equally across key demographics such as gender, political party, geographic region, race, and age.
Results from the survey are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 24-30, 2013 with a random sample of 600 registered voters in Hawaii.  The margin of error is +/- 4.36 percentage points.
Source:  Sierra Club of Hawai’i

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