The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released new national polling data showing that 75 percent of those surveyed support the development of solar-energy plants on public lands not set aside for national parks or nature preserves. Gotham Research Group conducted the poll.

Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, was confident in the validity of the poll’s findings.

“This polling data confirms what we already knew,” Resch said. “The American public overwhelmingly supports the development of solar energy.”

The survey also revealed that solar power was the top choice (38 percent) as the best use of public land. Respondents also selected solar farms and wind power (22 percent each) as the top energy sources that the government should prioritize for support, beating out natural gas (16 percent), nuclear (16 percent), oil (11 percent) and coal (4 percent).

According to the SEIA, the outlook for utility-scale solar power in the United States is promising. Five new plants came online in 2009 (totaling 58 megawatts), and there are more than 100 utility-scale solar projects under development. These projects represent more than 17 gigawatts of capacity.

“We expect a banner year for 2010, with more than 200 megawatts of utility-scale projects coming online,” Resch said.