Poll: Just 1 in 3 Know Wind Energy Depends on Fossil Fuels
Wind is so undependable that fossil fuels are used as backup more than half the time
Only 35 percent of voters know about wind energy’s dependence on fossil fuels, according to a poll recently commissioned by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Results of the poll also showed that even fewer, just 30 percent, of voters were aware of health and safety issues that may be associated with wind energy.
“Based on the way those polled responded to the questions, I think it is safe to say that — at best — only about one-third of voters are aware of wind energy’s alleged weaknesses,” said Mark Grebner, president of Practical Political Consulting. “Somewhat more respondents said they knew about wind energy’s dependence on fossil fuels than said they knew about the possible health and safety issues associated with wind energy. Correspondingly, more said they were surprised upon hearing about health and the safety issues associated with wind energy than said it surprised them to hear about wind energy’s reliance on fossil fuels.”
Grebner conducted the poll, which took place on April 1, 2, and 4 and consisted of calls to 4,000 voters likely to participate in the upcoming May election. Those polled were read three statements about wind energy in Michigan and asked (1) if they found it surprising, (2) if they hadn't heard it before but didn't find it surprising, or (3) if they already knew it.
Statement No. 1 was, “Wind is so undependable that fossil fuels have to be available to supplement it over 50 percent of the time.”
Nearly three in ten respondents (28 percent) said they found it surprising, 37 percent said they hadn’t heard it before but didn't find it surprising, and 35 percent said they already knew about it.
Statement No. 2 was, "There's a debate whether the use of wind to generate electricity should be redefined as a form of fossil fuel, because so little of the generation actually comes from wind.”
Of those polled, 39 percent said they found it surprising, 35 percent said they hadn’t heard it before but didn't find it surprising, and 27 percent said they already knew about it.
Statement No. 3 was, “Health and safety problems with wind turbines have caused some neighbors to move into their basements, or sell their homes, or file lawsuits.”
Roughly two out of five (42 percent) said they found it surprising, 28 percent said they hadn’t heard it before but didn't find it surprising, and 30 percent said they already knew about it.
When this portion of the poll was completed, respondents were asked, “How good of a job have news media done covering the debate over whether wind energy in Michigan is efficient and safe?”
Respondents could choose between three answers.
- They've done a good job in bringing the issue to the public's attention.
- They’ve failed to adequately cover the issue.
- They've actually been concealing the issue from the public, by making false reassurances.
Only 19 percent said the news media had done a good job; 53 percent said it had failed to adequately cover the issue, and 27 percent said the news media has been concealing the issue from the public.
“Perhaps not surprisingly, when we compare those responses to the party preference recorded for each voter, we discover Democrats are more willing to believe in the media's good intentions while the Republicans are more likely to smell a rat,” Grebner said.
Wind energy’s reliance on fossil fuels has been attested to by energy experts and reported by alternative news sources on both the political left and the political right. Possible health and safety issues associated with wind energy appear to have generally only received news coverage locally with the exception of a few articles and some radio coverage by larger news sources.
Mason County declared the Lake Winds wind plant south of Ludington out of compliance with its noise ordinance after residents filed a civil suit claiming the $250 million, 56-industrial turbine facility was making them sick. Consumers Energy took Mason County to court, lost at the Circuit Court level and the case is now in the Michigan Court of Appeals.
It appears that this story has only received coverage from the Ludington Daily News, Michigan Capitol Confidential and some radio stations.
Of the 4,000 likely voters called for the poll, 6.4 percent responded to at least one of the wind energy statements. That respondent rate is approximately the same as that of a PPC poll conducted last October poll.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.