Wisconsin poll finds support for expansion of bioenergy, RPS

By Erin Voegele | September 09, 2014

A new poll published by Clean Wisconsin finds that most voters within the state support the increased use of biomass energy. Results of the poll also show the state’s voters want to see Wisconsin’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) expand.

The survey was conducted July 26-Aug. 3 with 413 randomly-selected Wisconsin registered voters. A bipartisan research team comprised of Public Opinion Strategies and Maslin, Metz and Associates conducted the poll, which has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.

When asked if they support increasing the use of energy from biomass to help meet Wisconsin’s future needs, 52 percent of respondents agreed, with 33 percent indicating they were unsure. Only 15 percent said they opposed increasing the use of biomass energy.

When asked if they supported increased use of biomass energy from plant matter like switchgrass, wood waste and remains of crops and harvests, 84 percent agreed, while only 6 percent indicated they were unsure. Only 10 percent disagreed with increased use of these energy resources. In addition, the amount of people who indicated they’d like to see increased use of biomass energy from these sources has increased since 2012, when a similar poll determined 81 percent agreed, 10 percent were unsure and 9 percent disagreed with greater deployment of these biomass resources.

With regard to the RPS, 73 percent of respondents said they support increasing the RPS to 30 percent. It currently calls for 10 percent renewables by 2015. In addition, 67 percent respondents indicated they believe increased renewable energy will create new jobs in Wisconsin, while 14 percent noted they don’t think it will affect jobs. Only 10 percent said greater use of renewables would cost jobs in the state. Approximately 46 percent of respondents said greater deployment of renewables will reduce energy costs in the Wisconsin, and 22 percent said it would not impact energy costs. Only 21 percent said they thought more renewable energy use would increase energy costs in the state.

"The polling results strongly suggest that Wisconsin voters recognize the economic and job-creation benefits of clean energy development in Wisconsin," said Melissa VanOrnum of DVO Inc., a Chilton, Wisconsin-based engineering firm specializing in anaerobic digesters.

Additional information on the poll, which also addressed voter attitudes toward wind, solar, hydropower and several other energy issues, is available on the Clean Wisconsin website