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Willingness to Pay and Political Support for a U.S. National Clean Energy Standard

Abstract

In 2010 and 2011, Republicans and Democrats proposed mandating clean power generation in the electricity sector. To evaluate public support for a national clean energy standard (NCES), we conducted a nationally representative survey that included randomized treatments on the sources of eligible power generation and program costs. We find that the average American is willing to pay 162peryearinhigherelectricitybills(95162 per year in higher electricity bills (95% confidence interval: 128-260),representinga13260), representing a 13% increase [4], in support of a NCES that requires 80% clean energy by 2035. Support for a NCES is lower among non-whites, older individuals, and Republicans. We also employ our statistical model, along with census data for each state and Congressional district [5], to simulate voting behavior on a NCES by Members of Congress assuming they vote consistent with the preferences of their median voter. We estimate that Senate passage of a NCES would require an average household cost below 59 per year, while House passage would require costs below $48 per year. The results imply that an “80% by 2035” NCES could pass both chambers of Congress if it increases electricity rates less than 5% on average

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