May 20, 2016

Groundbreaking New Poll to Measure Community Attitudes on a Proactive Plan to Phase out BWL’s Coal Powered Plants

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May 20, 2016

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Ricky Junquera, 617.599.7048, ricky.junquera@sierraclub.org  

Groundbreaking New Poll to Measure Community Attitudes on a Proactive Plan to Phase out BWL’s Coal Powered Plants
Poll highlights overwhelming support for a move away from coal and toward renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Lansing, MI -- Lansing Board of Water and Light (LBWL) is the largest municipal utility in the state of Michigan. The utility serves Lansing, Michigan’s Capital city, as well as the town of East Lansing and the surrounding townships of Delta, Delhi, Meridian and DeWitt. LBWL has demonstrated some willingness to respond to community concerns. Beginning last fall, the utility brought together a Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) and held a series of public meetings to consider options for power generation going forward. LBWL has indicated its intention to close the remaining units of the Eckert power plant but has not addressed the fate of the Erickson plant.

Global Strategy Group (GSG), a leading national polling firm, recently conducted a 400-interview survey of registered voters in Lansing, East Lansing, and Lansing Township between May 11th and May 12th, 2016 on behalf of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign to measure support for a transition away from coal in Lansing.

That polling found that:

  • Lansing voters are strongly in favor of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Three quarters think their part of Michigan should be using more renewable energy (76%) and energy efficiency (75%). On the other hand, only 40% think their part of Michigan should be using more natural gas power, and a strong majority feel that it should use less coal (64%).
  • Support for both proposals independently is high, but the proposal with the 100% renewable goal has much more intense support. The 100% renewable proposal (72% support) and the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s proposal (68% support) are equally well-supported at the broadest level, but only 32% strongly support the LBWL proposal, while 47% strongly support the 100% renewable proposal.
  • Pitted against each other, the 100% renewable proposal comes out on top by a solid margin (51% support 100% renewable/32% support LBWL).
  • Further, voters’ preference here is durable, withstanding after voters hear arguments from both sides. After they hear a message in support of each proposal, levels of support in the head-to-head choice remain essentially the same, with the 100% renewable proposal increasing its lead by four points (53% support 100% renewable/30% support LBWL).

After reviewing the findings of Sierra Club’s commissioned Lansing poll, Brad van Guilder, Sierra Club Michigan Beyond Coal Campaign's Lansing Organizer said,

“These findings show an across the board support for maximizing clean energy and energy efficiency. We should be willing to at least consider the question of, what is the economic capacity for both wind and solar projects within the system for a Lansing energy future. If over time that answer results in lower rates and a cleaner environment then, I think the process for deciding where we will get our energy going forward would not be complete. We have an opportunity now, when retiring all of our coal generated power, to replace aged out generation with whatever makes the most sense for the people of our community.”

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About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.