New Poll Shows Opposition To APS’ Plans To Shut Down Solar In Arizona, Including Among Republicans
A New Organization Forms in Support of Solar Program
(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — A revealing new poll shows that Arizona voters, including Republicans, are crystal clear in their opinion of solar energy: Voters like it and they want it to stay here. The information comes on the eve of efforts by Arizona Public Service to shut down the independent solar market in Arizona.
The poll shows that voters think solar power companies are better for the environment than other utilities, will save taxpayers money and an elected official who votes to end the solar program will be committing political malpractice, according to the pollster.
The poll comes as a new organization has emerged to encourage that solar remains viable in Arizona. To show backing for the solar industry, a new organization dedicated to keeping the solar industry in Arizona has announced its formation, T.U.S.K.—Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed. It will be dedicated to keeping the solar industry in Arizona and help the state’s business owners, homeowners and schools to keep their energy costs lower and to provide more energy choice for state taxpayers.
Well-known Arizona Republican and former U.S. Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr., who is supporting T.U.S.K. and its efforts, said: “As a son of Arizona, I know we have no greater resource than our sun. Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice and the competition to drive down rates. That choice may mean they save money and with solar that is the case. Solar companies have a track record of aggressively reducing costs in Arizona. It’s crucial that we don’t let solar energy—and all its advantages and benefits it provides us—be pushed aside by those wanting to limit energy choice. That’s not the Republican way and it’s not the American way. Energy independence is what we should all stand up for and that’s what I intend to encourage.”
The statewide poll, which was conducted on March 20-21 by renowned Republican pollster Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies, surveyed 400 likely voters in Arizona, with an oversample of 327 likely Republican primary voters.
The key findings of the poll were as follows:
When asked which of many sources of energy they would MOST want to encourage the use of in Arizona, more than half (52%) of voters say solar power, making it far and away their top choice. Among just Republican primary voters, solar power again easily tops the list, with 40% of Republican primary voters saying they most want to encourage the use of solar power, followed by natural gas at 19%, nuclear at 14%, energy efficient efforts at 6%, oil at 5%, wind power at 5%, and coal at 4%.
- Fully 63% of voters in Arizona say that solar power companies are better for the environment than utility companies, while just 21% say utility companies are better. Among Republican primary voters, half (49%) say solar power companies are better for the environment, while 31% say utility companies.
- One half (52%) of Arizona voters say solar power companies are more likely to save taxpayers money, which is close to double the 28% who say utility companies are more likely to save taxpayers money.
- Eight-eight percent of voters agree (including 76% of Republicans) that solar energy is finally succeeding in Arizona because solar customers are allowed to sell the extra energy their solar panels generate back to the utility company (called net metering). In other words, if consumers are forced to buy power from Arizona Public Service for a certain price, Arizona Public Service should have to buy excess power created by solar panels for that same price. The voters strongly agreed that this is a good policy that exists in 43 other states, and it should not be ended by the Arizona Corporation Commission.
- Fully 75% of voters say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who voted to end the solar power program in Arizona, with a majority (52%) saying they would be much less likely to vote for that candidate. A Republican elected official who voted to end the solar power program would also be putting him or herself at risk in a primary, as 60% of Republican primary voters said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who voted to end the program.
- Eighty-four percent of voters (and 76% of Republicans) agree that when it comes to providing electricity, there should be more choices and competition rather than just have to use the power from the utility monopoly. Solar power is an important part of that.
The poll was conducted by Glen Bolger, a partner and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies. Bolger is one of the Republican Party’s top political strategists and pollsters. Bolger has extensive experience in Arizona. In 2012, Bolger did work on behalf of two of the independent expenditure efforts that helped elected Jeff Flake to the U.S. Senate. In previous election cycles, Bolger has served as the pollster for former Congressman John Shadegg, as well as former Congressman J.D. Hayworth. Bolger also regularly conducts polling for the Arizona Association of Realtors and has done a significant amount of polling at the local level in the state. Bolger is one of the few pollsters ever to twice receive the “Pollster of the Year” award from the American Association of Political Consultants, winning the prestigious award for his work in both 2002 and 2009.
Public Opinion Strategies is a national political and public affairs survey research firm whose clients include leading political figures, Fortune 500 companies, and major associations. Public Opinion Strategies has 15 U.S. Senators, six governors, and more than 75 Members of Congress as clients.
“What this poll shows is that solar power is extremely popular the Valley of the Sun and throughout Arizona,” said Bolger. “The evidence is this poll is overwhelming: When it comes to encouraging the use of solar power in Arizona as compared to other energy sources, solar wins hands down and wins from both sides of the aisle. Voters believe that solar power companies are better for the environment than utility companies, and also that solar power companies are more likely to save taxpayers money than utility companies. Like school choice and health care choice, solar choice is supported broadly by Arizonans, and it’s an important part of the Republican agenda.”
Bolger concluded: “From a political standpoint, voting to end the solar power program is a complete non-starter, as voters are much less likely to support a candidate who votes to end the program.”