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

A national survey looks at the economic and political question of whether Americans support a national clean energy standard and how much of a household electricity rate increase is politically feasible in Congress.

Researchers from Harvard and Yale conducted a nationally representative survey to assess whether there's public support for a national clean energy standard (NCES) that requires 80% clean energy by 2035.


Considering the higher electricity costs associated with promoting clean energy, the survey questioned Americans on their willingness to spend more each year on household electricity. They compared these findings with the probability of support from voters across political jurisdictions to assess the likelihood of a NCES passage in Congress.


  • Support for a NCES is lower among non-whites, older people, and Republicans.
  • The average American is willing to pay $162 per year in higher electricity bills in support of a NCES (a 13% increase).
  • Through an analysis of Congressional median voters, the findings indicate that a NCES could pass in both the House and Senate if it increases household electricity bills less than 5% on average (i.e. requiring NCES costs to fall below $59 per year in higher household electricity bills for passage in the Senate and below $48 for passage in the House).
  • This difference between public opinion and political support for clean energy is "consistent with the observation that a majority of US citizens support clean energy and climate ­change policies, whereas the necessary majorities in Congress do not."
  • "Importantly, the results also suggest that NCES policies that contain the cost impact on energy bills might succeed at generating the necessary political support to become law."

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Charles Cook

Date: 2012
Organization: Nature Climate Change
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Engagement, Other
Organization: Nature Climate Change
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Engagement, Other

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