Misleading

Opposing polls in Ohio combine to give a clear picture of regular folks’ thoughts on green-energy regulations.

First up was a poll conducted by Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, a clean-energy coalition, which appeared to show more than 70 percent of Ohio residents are in favor of renewable-energy requirements, such as the law that forces electrical utilities to meet moving targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency for another 11 years. In fact, the group claimed its poll showed 72 percent of Ohioans believe the state should replace traditional energy sources, such as coal, with sources such as wind and solar.

Coming from a state in which so many families are supported by work in coal-fired power plants or coal mines, that 72 percent figure is difficult to believe. But, as is normally the case with these kinds of polls, clever phrasing of questions can bring out any statistic the pollsters wish.

For example, in asking Ohioans about mandated energy-efficiency programs, the clean-energy group told respondents the programs cost “approximately $2.50 per month” per household, and then asked whether the respondents supported using that money to help customers “affordably make energy-efficiency upgrade to their homes and businesses.” Eighty-three percent said they were in favor.

In a poll from the opposite end of the spectrum – businesses and groups that support a measure to end the annual increases in state standards for renewables and energy-efficiency – the question was posed this way: “This year, Ohio’s residential electricity customers will each pay about $45 per year on their bills to pay for the state mandated energy efficiency programs. Estimates say that the programs may cost customers as much as $227 per year by 2025. Knowing this: Do you agree or disagree that the government should mandate reductions in electricity use by Ohio’s residential and business users?” Sixty-eight percent disagreed.

Somewhere in the middle of those manipulatively worded extremes is a truer picture of Ohioans’ desire to take care of their environment in a way that does not unnecessarily punish them or reward those who are profiting from questionable technologies that will require taxpayer subsidies for the foreseeable future. State officials should take note. The answer lies neither in giving up and refusing to address the need to protect our environment, nor in ill-thought-out bandwagon programs that will damage our economy without doing proportionate good for the world we pass on to future generations.