Why Voters May Soon Be Angry Over Energy

August 24, 2016

As the campaign gets underway in earnest, an always intriguing exercise for those keeping score at home will be to hear how the candidates address pocketbook issues. These are the ones – not national security, the national debt, lousy cable TV offerings, etc. – that are upper most in the minds of voters.

For example, when voters are asked what concerns them most about “energy,” they say it’s “cost.” Not where energy comes from or what its carbon footprint is, but how much they have to pay for it.

When Morning Consult put that question among others to 2001 voters Aug. 4-5, “cost” topped the list of energy concerns, followed by dependence on foreign energy and the environmental impacts of energy. No surprise there.

What may surprise is that 87 percent of respondents said their energy costs were currently “too high” (41%) or “just about right” (46%). Put another way, the overwhelming number of Americans will be cross as bears if their utility bills rise.

Unfortunately for them, their utility bills are heading up. Blame regulations that have shut down the most affordable sources of electricity and federal subsidies that favor the most expensive sources.  If the Clean Power Plan is implemented, for example, economists forecast a typical household’s electricity bill will be more than a third higher in 2020 than it was in 2012.

We doubt the typical household income will climb by a third in that time.

Maybe that explains why voters focus on costs and why the same poll found that two-thirds favor using all of our energy sources, from coal to wind.  Affordable and clean power is what they want.  With the CPP, that’s not what they’ll get.

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