News Archive for April, 2014

For Immediate Release: April 17, 2014

FM3 Poll: Ohio Voters Favor Green Energy and Politicians

From an April 16 article by John Funk in the Plain Dealer:

Ohioans overwhelmingly favor replacing coal-fired power plants with wind farms and solar arrays, and requiring utilities to help customers use less electricity, a poll released Wednesday has found.

The random telephone survey of 600 Ohio voters found:

•  That 72 percent favor renewable energy over traditional power plants, with 52 percent strongly in favor.

•  That 86 percent of Ohio voters support mandated utility energy efficiency programs, with 49 percent strongly supporting the rules.

•  That two-thirds of voters say they would more likely support legislative candidates this fall who promote renewable energy over those who think the state’s utilities should continue to emphasize traditional coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

“The findings present a very clear picture of where Ohioans stand when it comes to energy policy and some of the debates going on in the state legislature,” said David Metz, a principal in the polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. Known as FM3, the firm is based in California.

“And relative to other polling we have done in Ohio and around the country, these results are consistent in the strong support that Ohio voters offer for more use of clean energy and greater use of energy efficiency,” said Metz during a news conference.

Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, an advocacy group for efficiency and renewables, commissioned the poll. Ohio Advanced Energy has been battling against a proposal supported by the Republican leadership in the Ohio Senate — Senate Bill 310 — to amend state rules requiring power companies to help customers switch to more efficient equipment and lighting.

“The findings present a very clear picture of where Ohioans stand when it comes to energy policy,” David Metz, principal, FM3 polling company.
The law, which received bipartisan support by all but one lawmaker in 2008, requires utilities to help customers reduce power consumption through energy efficiency by 22 percent by 2025, compared with 2009 levels. And by the same year, the law requires that 12.5 percent of the power sold in the state to have been generated with renewable technologies. The percentages began at less than 1 percent in 2009 and are increasing annually.

But Republican lawmakers, in response to complaints from some large industrial companies and pressure from the utilities, led by FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron, want to freeze things at this year’s levels and then study the issue for three years.

FirstEnergy has been clear that it believes the efficiency rules have cut into normal market growth. Some large industries say it is costing too much in extra charges to fund the mandated programs. Proponents dismiss that complaint, saying the current law allows utilities to halt efficiency programs if they cost more than what they save customers.

Ford and other advocates for keeping the law argue that the bill pending in the Ohio Senate will effectively kill the efficiency and renewable industries that have sprung up since 2009.

“Ohio is home to some 400 advanced energy companies employing 25,000 Ohioans,” said Ted Ford, president and CEO of Ohio AEE. “Ohio’s clean energy law is working. It’s saving money for consumers, creating jobs, and making Ohio competitive. And now, we can demonstrate that the voting public strongly supports it, too.”

But the poll, Ohio Statewide Survey, also found that despite the efforts of energy efficiency advocates like Ford, almost half of the electorate haven’t heard anything at all about what lawmakers are considering. About 20 percent said they were aware of the debate.

Still, almost three-quarters of those polled said they support the current state law that requires utilities to switch to an increasing percentage of renewable energy.

And when asked what percentage of Ohio’s energy should come from wind and solar, on average, Ohioans said they would like to see a majority of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources, as much as 56 percent, said Metz.

“We saw a similar pattern when we asked about energy efficiency, he said. “Most Ohio voters see this (the current law) as something that could benefit them personally.”

“When we ask whether they would be interested in taking advantages of incentives to weatherize their homes, become more energy efficient and not waste energy, 90 percent of voters said that they personally would be interested.

FM3 is a nationally ranked firm that has done extensive polling on environmental, transportation, energy and educational issues. Its clients include electric utilities, school districts, state agencies and cities. The company has also polled for Democratic political candidates, including many well-known progressive and liberal U.S. senators and members of Congress.

For Immediate Release: April 3, 2014

FM3 Poll: Strong Support for Protecting Montana Waterways

From an April 2 article by Vince Devlin in the Missoulian:

Armed with a new statewide poll showing overwhelming public support for protecting Montana’s rivers, a coalition of groups said Wednesday they would seek something that hasn’t been done in almost 40 years – gaining permanent protection for more of the state’s waterways.

Scott Bosse, Northern Rockies director for American Rivers, said those rivers include Rock Creek, the North Fork of the Blackfoot River, Monture Creek, and Fish Creek and its tributaries.

“We’ve heard from a lot of people in public meetings that there is great interest in protecting those,” Bosse said. “It will be really important to gather more input from local people before we put forth any proposals.”

Montanans for Healthy Rivers, a coalition of individuals, business owners, sportsmen, farmers, ranchers, agency officials, land trusts and conservation groups, commissioned the poll of Montana voters that was conducted Feb. 20-23.

The results, Bosse said, “cut across party, gender and age lines” to show that:

  • More than four in five voters classify rivers as “very important” to Montana’s economy and way of life.
  • Almost 90 percent would like to see the number of protected rivers in Montana maintained or increased.
  •  Two-thirds would look more favorably on political candidates who support new river protections.
  • Three-quarters support the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.

Montana has four areas protected by the act: a 150-mile stretch of the Upper Missouri, and the three forks of the upper Flathead River.

They gained protection in 1976, when Max Baucus was still in the U.S. House of Representatives.

No Montana rivers have been added since.


“We’ve heard three major themes in our outreach,” Bosse, who is based in Bozeman, said. “First, Montanans are worried about the impact that increasing development is having on our rivers. Second, we like the idea of permanently protecting more public lands rivers under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. And third, communities and riverside landowners would like to do more incentive-based river conservation projects on private lands, but the funding isn’t there.”

To that end, Bosse said successfully including what’s known as the Northern Rockies Headwaters Extreme Weather Mitigation Provision in the Water Resources Development Act – the Senate bill has it, the version introduced in the House doesn’t – will be a key to protecting Montana rivers when they depart public lands.

“Rivers don’t lose their value when they flow through private property,” Bosse said. “The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is great for protecting rivers as they flow through public lands, but the Northern Rockies provision would provide tens of millions of dollars to protect and enhance riverside areas on private lands.”

Montanans for Healthy Rivers “came together four years ago,” according to a news release announcing poll results, “to explore bold and innovative ways that the state could protect its last best free-flowing rivers at a watershed scale.”

Bosse said it has focused its efforts on the Flathead and Clark Fork rivers, the headwaters of the Missouri River and the Upper Yellowstone.

The coalition has met with almost 100 organizations, state and federal agencies and Indian tribes, and in October hosted public meetings in Missoula, Whitefish, Bozeman and Red Lodge to solicit further input.

It commissioned Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates of California, also known as FM3, to conduct the poll that showed strong support for protecting the state’s rivers. The survey interviewed 400 Montana voters, and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.