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Which Americans are willing to pay extra for clean energy?

A poll of 2,000 registered American voters found that 47% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for clean energy. The majority of that 47% were under age 44, lived in cities, college-educated, and moderate and liberal Democrats. Fifty percent of respondents said they were willing to pay nothing.

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication conducted the surveys between November 2018 and April 2019.

They asked the following question:

How much more, if any amount, would you be willing to pay each month on your electricity bill to purchase 100% of your electricity from clean, renewable sources (such as wind and solar)?

Here’s a sample of what they found:

By age

  • 18-29: $19 a month
  • 30-44: $22 a month
  • 45-59: $14 a month
  • 60+: $11 a month

(The millennials will spend the most on clean energy, for the most part, followed by Gen Z.)

By income

  • < $50K: $15 a month
  • $50K to $100K: $16 a month
  • $100K to $150K: $18 a month
  • $150K+: $16 a month

In other words, the wealthiest American people are less willing than the next bracket down to pay for clean energy, and only $1 a month above the lowest income bracket. So the study concludes, “People who earn more money are not more likely to be willing to pay more for renewable energy, indicating that willingness to pay more is not primarily a question of the ability to afford it.”

By ethnicity

  • Black: $23 a month
  • Other: $19 a month
  • Hispanic: $18 a month
  • White: $14 a month

Quartz makes an interesting point about these results:

In the future, the importance of who will pay more for renewable is likely to fade. The price of clean energy is falling relative to fossil fuels. As cheaper renewables displace coal and natural gas, the researchers note the question will soon not be how much more are you willing to pay, but how much less.

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Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.