More than 60% of Virginians support the goals of switching the state’s electric system to clean energy by 2050, reducing fossil fuel pollution, and boosting energy efficiency initiatives, according to new polling by the conservative nonprofit that pushes for renewable energy. The finding was part of a package of polling data issued Tuesday by the Conservatives for Clean Energy-Virginia, which intended to assess support for the objectives of the Virginia Clean Economy Act even among people who were unfamiliar with the landmark environmental legislation.
Between July 25 and July 27, co/efficient, a research and analytics firm, polled 762 people across the state by phone. Skyler Zunk, who is a Republican political strategist who recently functioned on Del. Kirk Cox’s lost gubernatorial election and is now leading CCE’Vs “Land and Liberty Coalition” project emphasizing landowners’ right to establish renewables on their property, said, “If you actually listen to the national mainstream press, you would consider that renewable power was a red versus blue issue.”
However, according to Mr. Zunk, the group’s polling shows that favor for producing clean energy — a word that encompasses wind, solar, storage, and occasionally nuclear power — “cuts across party divides.” When asked about their views on the VCEA’s goals, 89% of self-identified liberals, 68% of moderates, and 36% of conservatives indicated they supported them. 41% of conservatives stated they were opposed to the goals.
The difference among conservatives was “pretty close,” according to CCE-V Director Ron Butler, who originally worked for the Republican Party of Virginia and created the Republican direct-mail company Creative Direct. According to Mr. Butler, conservatives are particularly receptive to the concept that landowners should always have the right to install renewables on their property, with 86 percent agreeing that “landowners should indeed be permitted to build solar initiatives as they have a right to determine how to use their land and it’s a renewable energy that supports everyone.” The remark was supported by 88% of moderates and 97% of liberals.
A high percentage of respondents agreed that Virginia should prioritize wind, solar, natural gas, and nuclear power over coal. When asked whether they would prefer a solar facility, housing development, industrial park, or natural gas facility on 100 acres in their neighborhood, 60 percent said solar.
Other survey questions revealed that respondents cited climate change as the most important reason for backing the VCEA, trailed by “clean energy jobs.” The top reason given for rejecting the rule was that “climate change is exaggerated,” followed by worries about rising electricity bills.
In a poll about Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe was 45 percent to 40 percent ahead of Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin. However, just a slim majority of respondents supported President Joseph Biden’s performance, and 47% say Virginia is currently on the wrong course.