TRANSMISSION WOES ARE REAL: Just 56 percent of Americans support building high-voltage transmission lines to transport renewable power to where it’s needed, with support falling even further if the power lines would be built in their neighborhood, according to a poll out this morning from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The polling shows the immense challenge the Biden administration faces in implementing the Inflation Reduction Act and reaching its lofty climate goals, which will rely on thousands of miles more transmission lines crossing the country. It also validates frustrations from lawmakers and clean energy developers about “NIMBY” — not in my backyard — attitudes, especially among Democrats, that are stymying transmission development and the push for permitting reform.
The decline in support for transmission when it would be sited in their neighborhood was especially stark among Democrats and high-income respondents, according to the poll. Support for renewable transmission was 73 percent among Democrats overall, but that fell to 61 percent when they were told it would be built in their neighborhood. Sixty-five percent of those in households making more than $100,000 supported transmission, but that fell to 55 percent if it would be in their neighborhood.
Support for a monthly carbon fee to fight climate change also fell from previous years, even if that fee was limited to $1 a month. Just 38 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay a $1 monthly fee, down 14 percent from 2021. Around a quarter of respondents said they get their energy from renewable sources and 11 percent said they have solar panels.
EV findings: The findings were bullish on future electric vehicle adoption, with 41 percent of respondents saying they were at least “somewhat likely” to purchase an EV as their next car. More than half of Democrats said they were leaning toward buying an EV, compared to about a quarter of Republicans, with the top reasons being saving money on gas, reducing impact on the environment and saving money on maintenance.
Vehicle cost was the top issue holding Americans back from buying an EV, with more than 80 percent of respondents saying they are “prohibitively expensive,” the poll found. Six in 10 respondents said tax breaks would help motivate them to buy an EV. That’s a boon for the White House, which is trying to ensure that EV tax breaks aimed at cutting out China from the supply chain don’t crimp demand for EVs.
It’s also distributing funds for states and local governments to build a network of 500,000 public chargers by 2030, which will be a necessity as the poll found eight in 10 respondents are hesitant to buy an EV because of a dearth of charging stations.
The carrot was more popular than the stick when it comes to incentivizing EV adoption, the poll found. About half of respondents said they supported government credits or rebates for EVs and charging infrastructure, which were far more popular than other measures to drive adoption like stricter fuel standards or prohibiting the sale of gas vehicles.