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Alternative Energy

Consumers Willing to Pay More for Environmentally Responsible Fuels

A majority of consumers said they would pay more for clean energy because it is good for the environment, according to a recent survey conducted by the Energy & Resources industry group of Deloitte.

"The most dramatic finding was the growing willingness of electricity consumers to pay higher costs to use fuels that are less damaging to the environment, including coal, if delivered as clean coal," said Greg Aliff, vice chairman and national managing partner, Energy & Resources, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP.

A total of 62 percent of those surveyed said they would willingly pay higher electric rates for clean coal, and 54 percent said they would pay more for alternative energy sources.

"More than half of U.S. electric generation is based on coal, and support for clean-coal solutions could have a significant impact," stated Branko Terzic, Regulatory Policy Leader, Energy & Resources, Deloitte Services LP.

"We were surprised at the increasing level of support from consumers, but the findings remain mixed," added Terzic. "While more than three quarters of the consumers surveyed believed that alternative energy brought benefits, 42 percent would not pay an additional 5 percent on their electricity bill to support government mandated alternative energy purchases."

Key findings

When asked about the public benefits of the use of alternative energy sources, the respondents overwhelmingly said that the environment (86 percent), U.S. energy security (80 percent) and new job creation (76 percent) would benefit from alternative energy use.

These consumers would also have no problem with alternative energy facilities within "sight of home" with 83 percent accepting wind farms and 86 percent accepting solar panels.

Consumers were split on nuclear energy. About 46 percent of those who pay electric bills would support the building of a new nuclear power station within 20 miles of their communities while 48 percent would not.

Overwhelmingly 44 percent of the respondents cited "environmental" as the primary motivator when it would come to the purchase of alternative or renewable energy. The factor of "price" was the second most mentioned motivator (30 percent), followed by "energy reliability" (15 percent) and "jobs creation" (8 percent).

More than 70 percent of respondents said they were familiar with the terms "alternative" or "renewable" energy. Respondents were most familiar with solar (89 percent) and wind (73 percent) followed by ethanol (59 percent) and hydro (58 percent).

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