Amid the frequent division and rancor over public policy, North Carolina voters of all political stripes overwhelmingly favor something universally positive: more competition and choice in their energy providers, a grassroots demand lawmakers can satisfy safely and easily.
Across the state, more than four in five voters say they would support lawmakers or candidates who want to change North Carolina’s regulatory policies to allow for more energy competition and consumer choice, according to a poll conducted recently for our nonprofit group, Conservatives for Clean Energy North Carolina.
Support for more consumer choice and energy competition is consistent across political ideologies, including 82% of Republican voters, 77% of Democratic voters and 84% of unaffiliated voters, the 2023 North Carolina Energy Poll found.
Clean energy provides ever-expanding job opportunities across North Carolina, including in manufacturing and production, boosting areas of our state most desperate for economic development. The more energy of all kinds we produce at home, the less we depend on anti-American dictators who control oil abroad.
KEY POLL FINDINGS
• Energy competition and choice are increasingly popular with voters, according to our random phone survey, conducted by the Republican consulting firm Strategic Partners Solutions.
• More than three in four voters (76.5%) think North Carolina should modernize its energy system by relying more on competition and customer choice, including 72% of Republicans. Fewer than 1 in 8 voters think the current system works well.
• More than 80% of voters support legislation establishing a study to examine options for modernizing Duke Energy’s monopoly, favoring more competition and direct sales from other electricity producers to consumers, including 77% of Republicans.
• About 78% of voters support legislation that would authorize a study to find more ways to modernize North Carolina’s current system to make electricity more reliable and to provide consumers with more options in how they get their electricity.
• About 82% of voters favor modernizing North Carolina’s energy system in the wake of the state’s disastrous Christmas Eve blackouts that left hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians without power.
• About 85% of voters oppose letting Duke Energy own all new clean energy generation if other private energy businesses such as solar, wind or battery companies can provide those services at a cheaper cost, including 78% of Republicans.
These poll results are not close, they are conclusive. Very few government policy choices command such enormous public support as energy competition and choice.
CONSERVATIVES FAVOR FREEDOM
This should come as no surprise in the American state proud to proclaim that since 1775, it has been first in freedom. In fact, promoting greater competition and consumer choice are principles that resonate across the political right.
For example, the NCGOP tweeted recently: “High energy costs force too many low-income North Carolina families to choose between paying power bills or for other necessities, such as food, housing and healthcare. … North Carolina and the nation deserve affordable energy!”
Quite right. As conservatives grasp intuitively, greater competition leads to better products at lower prices. That’s true for food, clothing, shelter and the other universal necessity: energy.
And as the new national group Freedom Conservatism noted upon its recent launch, free enterprise is the foundation of prosperity.
“Americans can only prosper in an economy in which they can afford the basics of everyday life: food, shelter, health care and energy,” said the group’s signatories, including several North Carolina leaders. “A corrosive combination of government intervention and private cronyism is making these basics unaffordable to many Americans. We commit to reducing the cost of living through competitive markets, greater individual choice and free trade with free people…”
We look forward to working with like-minded conservatives to examine how North Carolina can reform its energy market to better serve all 11 million residents and hundreds of thousands of businesses across our state. They deserve no less.
Carson Butts is Conservatives for Clean Energy’s state director for North Carolina.
Read the full oped at The Wilson Times.