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Renewable energy requirements on the ballot: An analysis of county-level voting results

Zachary D. Pritchard and Sarah Mills

Energy Policy, 2021, vol. 148, issue PA

Abstract: National polling data consistently find a large, bipartisan group of Americans support state renewable portfolio standards (RPS), policies which mandate generation of electricity from renewable sources. However, when such policies are actually put before voters on the ballot, they have been met with mixed success: out of seven RPS ballot initiatives, only four have been approved. From a newly compiled dataset of county-level voting results, we use ordinary least-squares regression to investigate the determinants of public support for RPS ballot proposals. Two models are constructed based on literature related to legislative adoption of RPS and, separately, public support of pro-renewable policies. Consistent with previous studies, political, economic, and demographic variables are found to be significant in predicting voter behavior. State-level fixed effects, however, are the largest contributors to both models. A synthesis model, combining elements from both the legislative adoption and public acceptance literatures, performs best when fixed effects are removed. As climate advocates increasingly call for policies to more quickly transition the electricity sector to renewable energy sources, this research provides greater insight into the prospects of successfully achieving that aim through a ballot initiative. It also, however, reveals insights applicable to legislature-driven RPS policies.

Keywords: Renewable portfolio standard; Ballot initiative; Public acceptance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2020.111949

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