Solar energy is in the air in California. With a “solar homes bill” moving swiftly through the legislature, and Gov. Schwarzenegger securing a state budget, there is much talk of the governor pulling through on his campaign promise to give solar energy a boost. Sure this is great for solar fans, but what do regular Californians think?Sacramento, California – August 3, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Two new public opinion surveys conducted in July show California voters overwhelmingly support the expanded use of solar energy to power the state’s homes and businesses. A survey conducted by the Charlton Research Company finds that 85% of Californians support the move by political leaders to, “support solar energy programs for homes and businesses.” During the California Recall Election, Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed the goal of having 50% of new homes rely on solar energy. When asked if they supported this proposal, 83% of respondents expressed support. A majority of Californians indicated that they are willing to pay for the implementation of solar energy with their own money. 62% of respondents said they would, “be willing to pay a small surcharge of only a dollar or two on [their] monthly utility bill.” Another poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that Californians supported the use of solar energy to power their homes with overwhelming numbers. In the PPIC poll, 82% of California voters said they thought the goal of increased solar usage to power homes by 2006 was a “good idea.” Schwarzenegger’s other principal environmental initiative, implementation of the “hydrogen highway,” by 2010 attracted the support of 57% of Californians who said it was a “good idea.” As an alternative energy source, solar energy has long been perceived to be of interest primarily to environmental activists. However, both the PPIC and Charlton Research polls showed enormous levels of support by individuals from across the political spectrum. In fact, there was very little disparity between support for solar energy by Republicans and Democrats. While 90% of Democrats indicated support for solar energy programs “to meet California’s future energy needs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil”, 81% of Republicans felt the same way. 83% of Independents said they too supported solar energy programs. There was also no distinction in support for solar energy among different ethnic groups. Among the 85% who indicated support for solar, support among whites was 86%, 85% of African Americans, 84% of Hispanics, and 85% of Asian respondents. And when asked whether Californians support Governor Schwarzenegger’s goal of 50% of new homes equipped with solar energy systems, 81% of Republicans expressed support, similar to the 84% of Democrats who indicated support. 86% of Independents also backed the proposal. Finally, when it comes to the investment in solar energy, a majority of Republicans (53%) were willing to pay a small surcharge on their utility bills while 69% of Democrats and 67% of Independents said they were willing to pay the utility bill surcharge.