A group that advocates for shifting to renewable sources of energy in New Jersey says its latest poll shows residents support the idea – and are willing to pay more to make it happen.

The ReThink Energy NJ poll was conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University in late September and early October and is the fifth in an annual series. It found 87% of registered voters say investing in renewable energy sources is important to the overall health of the state, including 60% calling it very important.

“New Jersey voters overwhelmingly support moving to clean renewable energy and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and unneeded pipelines,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for ReThink Energy and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “And the poll results show that if anything voter support for moving in that direction has grown stronger.”

Forty-five percent of registered voters identified solar as the most important energy source for New Jersey’s future. Natural gas was cited next most often, by 26%, followed by wind (11%) and nuclear (8%).

ReThink Energy doesn’t support natural gas energy, which was described by 40% of poll respondents as a clean energy source. That was far behind the numbers who see solar (82%) and wind (77%) as sources of clean energy.

“Eighty percent of voters are supportive of offshore wind, so I think that’s encouraging given that offshore wind is newer,” Gilbert said. “And perhaps there could be concern about offshore wind development given the obvious sort of important role that the New Jersey coastline and Jersey Shore plays in the state’s culture and economy.”

The poll found 65% of registered voters say they’re willing to pay $10 or $15 per month more over the next five years on their energy bills to have it generated from solar or wind sources. The question specified that doing so would help to reduce harmful emissions.

“That’s important because certainly there are some investments that have to be made as we’re developing clean energy sources, for example for getting offshore wind off the ground. And voters seem willing to pay somewhat more for that,” Gilbert said.

In last year’s survey, 66% said they were willing. In the 2017 survey, 74% were willing.

“On a percentage basis, it’s a fairly significant increase on a monthly bill for consumers,” Gilbert said. “So I think it does show a general willingness to pay a reasonably significant additional premium for clean energy.”

The telephone survey of 808 randomly selected registered voters was conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson for between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2nd. The margin of error for a sample that size is +/- 3.5 percentage points.

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Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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