On Aug. 3, 2007, three research groups, sponsored by the COMPETE Coalition, released the results of three separate surveys, each of which produced similar results: Electric utility customers favor a competitive market and green power.

Peter D. Hart Research Associates conducted its survey from May 31, 2007, to June 4, 2007. At the press conference, president Geoff Garin said that Hart found, given the choice, most utility customers were in favor of green power over price. Hart found 74 percent of the people surveyed thought a competitive market was the right way to meet generation goals. These results suggest people recognize a competitive market as a good thing, even though the majority of those surveyed are happy with their current rates.

“We’re at a time in America where people are realizing the importance of a reliable grid, and price is no longer the top issue, as one would expect,” Garin said.

The Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted a survey in the New England area in March 2007 of 600 registered voters. Interestingly, they found 72 percent of those surveyed were concerned with global warming, and a greater percentage (84 percent) thought energy companies can help by limiting emissions.

Opinion Dynamics also found 63 percent of those surveyed would be willing to pay more on their electric bill to support utility and government efforts to use green methods of generating electricity. And they found 91 percent of those surveyed think consumers should have the opportunity to choose their electric company.

“The benefits are that the market will experience down pressure on cost, increased product innovation, greater control over energy consumption, and most importantly, customers will experience a greater focus on them and better customer service,” said Ronald M. Cerniglia, the director of National Advocacy for Direct Energy.

Direct Energy conducted its survey during the week of May 21, 2007, and found 77 percent of the 600 Michigan residents surveyed said they should be allowed to choose from competing electricity suppliers. It also found 76 percent expressed support to change current Michigan laws to foster residential choice in electricity providers.

“Being frank about the bumps in the road, people are saying it’s a journey worth making,” Garin said.     EC