Results from Monmouth University Poll released on Wednesday reveal that a majority of residents are in support of developing electricity-generating wind farms off the coast of New Jersey.
Though many New Jerseyans are unaware of the costs that may be associated with such an endeavor, 76 percent of respondents – a significantly larger group than those backing the expansion of oil drilling or nuclear power – said they are in favor of moving ahead with offshore wind projects, according to the poll.
In fact, about half of those polled – 48 percent – said that efforts to increase offshore wind energy should be a state priority over the course of the next decade.
Forty-five percent of residents said they would oppose development if it caused an increase in their electricity rates. Few residents, though, expect that scenario would play out, with just 19 percent saying they expect an increase in rates over the short-term. Over the long-term, only 15 percent expect their rates would be higher in ten years.
Overall, 15 percent of people polled were opposed to any expansion of offshore wind development while 58 percent of residents said they would still support the efforts, even if it caused their electricity rates to increase, so long as they felt the effort would reduce carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels.
Gov. Phil Murphy has set a goal to generate 3,500 MW of electricity from offshore wind by 2030.
Over the next ten years, 34 percent thought that offshore wind should only be a minor priority for the state, while 11 percent thought it should not be a priority at all.
“This could be tricky for clean energy advocates,” Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth Polling Institute said in an analysis of the poll results. “Support for wind energy could drop once New Jersey ratepayers become aware of any development costs they will have to bear.
“However,” he continued, “they could become more willing to shoulder some of the investment if they are convinced it will lead to real environmental benefits.”
Though support is high, the number of those in favor of wind farms has actually dropped slightly from the 80 – 84 percent range it enjoyed in polls from 2008 through 2011.
The Monmouth University Poll surveyed 604 New Jersey adults, by telephone, from Feb. 8 to Feb. 10; question results have a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points.