Public Policy Forum Blog

The People Speak: Citizens' Views on Energy Policy

Most area residents are at least somewhat concerned about increases in energy costs and, accordingly, most say they have taken steps to conserve energy. That’s according to the latest People Speak poll of 395 residents of Southeast Wisconsin, which also shows that most citizens in the region are willing to pay more for fuel efficient cars, appliances, and homes, and that most support certain tax incentives to conserve energy or lessen reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

The latest People Speak is the fourth edition of this regional tracking poll, which is a partnership between the Public Policy Forum, UWM's Center for Urban Initiatives and Research, and The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee. Over the past six months there has been a sharp increase in the percentage of respondents who feel jobs and economic development are the most important issues facing the region. The environment ranks low as a concern for most citizens, as it has in each of the previous People Speak polls.

Despite the low priority placed on environmental issues, citizens are concerned about energy costs and climate change. These concerns are echoed in the actions most citizens report taking to conserve energy, including purchasing energy-efficient light bulbs, turning down the air or heat at home, and buying energy-efficient appliances. Fewer respondents report reducing their driving by walking or bicycling more often, and a very small percentage of respondents say they carpool or take public transit.

Overall, citizens' concerns about cost and climate change are also reflected in their support for energy conservation policies such as tax incentives or benefits to individuals and businesses for conservation, requirements that cars be more fuel efficient, and requiring utility companies and business to use more alternative, renewable energy sources. There is less support building a new nuclear energy plant in Wisconsin. Reducing the speed limit and establishing a utility surcharge for exceeding monthly household energy-use limits are not supported.

For the complete People Speak poll results, as well as analysis of the results, visit the poll's homepage.
Anneliese Dickman