New poll shows Oklahoma voters strongly support clean energy and energy efficiency

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – In results from a new poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) released today, an overwhelming majority of Oklahoma voters support expanding Oklahoma’s clean energy resources such as wind and solar, and phasing out some of Oklahoma’s coal plants through clean energy and energy efficiency programs.

The telephone poll reached 500 registered voters in Oklahoma from August 25 to 27, 2012.

“The results of this poll are remarkable,” said Grace McRae, Polling and Research Strategist with Sierra Club. “Across the nation support for clean energy is high, but in Oklahoma, nearly 8 out of 10 voters support expanding use of clean energy resources like wind and solar. Oklahoma’s leaders and utilities should take note: Oklahomans want clean energy.”

A plurality of voters (69%) believe that Oklahoma should take full advantage of its homegrown wind resources, and  even more voters would rather see money and investment put into further development of in-state resources rather than sending millions of dollars out of state to import coal (76% of respondents).

As Oklahoma utilities such as OG&E plan for how to power Oklahoma in the next decade, this poll demonstrates that a strong majority of voters support phasing out some of Oklahoma’s coal plants and replacing these plants with cleaner sources of energy, like wind (62%).

“Right now, OG&E plans to continue sending hundreds of millions of dollars out of Oklahoma to feed its coal plants,” said Whitney Pearson, with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “Three out of four voters said sending this money out of state is the wrong choice. They support keeping that money in Oklahoma, investing in our homegrown resources. OG&E can, and must, do more to support Oklahoma’s economy and our health with real investment in our clean energy resources.”

A larger percentage of Oklahoma voters support energy efficiency programs that reduce the need to run coal-fired power plants, even if they would pay a few dollars more on their monthly power bills (72%).

“Energy efficiency is about eliminating waste out of the system. It’s not about sitting in a cold, dark room – it’s about sitting in a comfortable room that uses power in a smarter way,” said Temur Akhmedov, Energy Solutions Business Developer at ES2 in Oklahoma City. “Many utilities are taking advantage of opportunities to lower prices for residential customers while running successful businesses with energy efficiency. OG&E isn’t taking advantage of these opportunities, and with the support for energy efficiency demonstrated in this poll, perhaps they should reconsider.”

Additionally, Oklahoma voters were clearly concerned about poor air quality, including smog pollution tied to coal plants. The summer of 2012 was one of the worst in recent years for air quality, with more than a dozen ozone alert days in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.  This pollution contributes to asthma attacks and can trigger respiratory and cardiovascular illness. Sixty-three percent of Oklahoma voters said that Oklahoma’s leaders, like OG&E, could do more to address these issues. According to the poll results, women are most concerned about air quality problems.

“OG&E’s coal plants contribute to Oklahoma’s air quality problems, and cost Oklahomans in health care bills as well as their monthly power bills. Right now, OG&E can pursue different options that protect our economy and our health,” said Pearson. “This poll demonstrates support for phasing out coal plants so that we can power Oklahoma with cleaner energy. OG&E should seriously consider these options as they plan for the next few decades.”

The margin of error for this poll is 4.3% points at the 95% confidence level.