Monday, June 4, 2012

Willingness to pay and political support for a US national clean energy standard

Abstract: In 2010 and 2011, Republicans and Democrats proposed mandating clean power generation in the electricity sector1, 2, 3. To evaluate public support for a national clean energy standard (NCES), we conducted a nationally representative survey that included randomized treatments on the sources of eligible power generation and programme costs. We find that the average US citizen is willing to pay US$162 per year in higher electricity bills (95% confidence interval: US$128–260), representing a 13% increase4, in support of a NCES that requires 80% clean energy by 2035. Support for a NCES is lower among non-whites, older individuals and Republicans. We also employ our statistical model, along with census data for each state and Congressional district5, to simulate voting behaviour on a NCES by Members of Congress assuming they vote consistently with the preferences of their median voter. We estimate that Senate passage of a NCES would require an average household cost below US$59 per year, and House passage would require costs below US$48 per year. The results imply that an ‘80% by 2035’ NCES could pass both chambers of Congress if it increases electricity rates less than 5% on average.

by Joseph E. Aldy 1, 2 and 3; Matthew J. Kotchen 2 and 4; and Anthony A. Leiserowitz 4  
1. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA
2. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA
3. Resources for the Future, Washington DC 20036, USA
4. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA
Nature Climate Change www.Nature.com
Published online 13 May 2012

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