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Green Energy Poll Shows Support for Smart Grid
SAN FRANCISCO, California, August 10, 2009 - In a new public opinion poll on green energy, more than 1,100 Americans overwhelmingly agree that the nationís electrical grid infrastructure should be upgraded to support new generation and further deployment of alternative energy technologies.

This agreement exists even though the poll detected a perception gap between what respondents are willing to pay for green power - 15 percent more than they currently pay for electricity - and what they think it costs - 50 percent more.

Results of the 2009 Green Power Progress Survey: A Study of Consumer Demand for Green Power Infrastructure, Renewable Energy & Technologies were released today by the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and the research and polling consultancy Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates.

The Green Power Progress Survey was conducted as an Internet survey from May 23 to May 27, 2009 among 1,103 consumers and what the pollsters are calling "Green Elites," a group identified as active participants in the sustainability and environment sector.

The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.95 percent at the 95 percent confidence level and larger for subgroups.

According to the survey, respondents believe that addressing environmental issues and energy needs is a shared responsibility, and they support government mandates for utility companies to use alternative energy sources.

Power lines in New Jersey (Photo credit unknown)

"Confusion over costs is a key challenge to the infrastructure upgrades necessary to deploy alternative energy," the pollsters said today in a statement. "While there are indications that Americans are willing to pay more for infrastructure to generate energy from alternative sources, a sizable gap exists between what they think this will cost and what they say they are willing to pay."

Respondents indicated that they paid an average of $117 in April 2009 for electricity. For 61 percent, their bills increased over last year.

Those who took the survey said they are willing to pay 15 percent more than what they pay today for energy that comes from alternative sources. That amounts to $18 per month, based on the average electricity bill indicated by respondents.

Respondents also believe green energy is at least 50 percent more expensive than what they currently pay, an average amount of $62 per month.

These findings point to a $40+ green power pricing and perception gap existing among consumers. The gap is smaller for Green Elites, just $29.

"This gap is limiting the role end users can play in upgrading the nationís grid infrastructure and deploying green technology solutions," said Jennifer Graham Clary, who chairs the global technology practice at Burson-Marsteller.

"Consumer awareness around pricing, value and the specific consumer benefits of these upgrades is critical for companies and public agencies seeking to drive the commercialization of new energy and green technology solutions," Clary said.

"Consumers overwhelmingly support government investment in green technology," said Derek Richer, director, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. "Seven in 10 Americans and eight in 10 Green Elites support the alternative energy technology investments included in the stimulus package Ė and a majority said that more should have been allocated for these projects."

The poll found that 57 percent of respondents and 70 percent of Green Elites agree that significant upgrades to the nationís electrical grid are necessary to meet the demand for electricity over the next five years.

A smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using digital technology to save energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency.

"We can achieve this through a smart grid, which would integrate advanced functions into the nation's electric grid to enhance reliability, efficiency, and security, and would also contribute to the climate change strategic goal of reducing carbon emissions," says the Department of Energy on its website. "These advancements will be achieved by modernizing the electric grid with information-age technologies, such as microprocessors, communications, advanced computing, and information technologies."

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 sets aside $4.5 billion to modernize the electric grid, to include demand-responsive equipment, enhance security and reliability of the energy infrastructure, energy storage research, development, demonstration and deployment, and to facilitate recovery from disruptions to the energy supply.

There are indications that survey respondents are willing to directly pay for the benefits of smart grid and green technology solutions for their households. On average, those surveyed say they are willing to pay a one-time fee of $50 to install necessary hardware in their homes and service charges of $10 per month.

"Additionally, we found that more than six in 10 Americans and Green Elites are very likely to support increased government investment in smart grid technology that incentivizes them to better manage costs by cutting back on consumption during peak periods," said Clary. "The support likely stems from empowering the individual to have greater control over energy usage."

Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.

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