A national survey of more than one thousand Australians has revealed that the Howard government’s renewable energy policies are hugely popular with the public, and that there is now overwhelming public backing for increasing the support to clean energy industries such as wind power and solar power.Melbourne, Australia – October 10, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Key Results: (1.) When polled on how to meet Australia’s increasing demand for energy, 95 percent of respondents supported the use of wind power, 50 percent supported the use of natural gas and just 21 percent supported the use of new coal plant. (2.) The poll showed extremely high support at 94 percent for Prime Minister John Howard’s Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) legislation, which is being reviewed this year. Fully 88 percent of respondents backed increased government support for the use of clean energy such as wind and solar. (3.) On the issue of climate protection, 80 percent of respondents replied that if Howard were to increase the amount of electricity generated by non-polluting means such as solar or wind energy, it would make them more likely to think he was doing a good job as Prime Minister. (4.) On wind farm development in country Australia, 91 percent of those polled think it is “more important to build wind farms than avoid building them in rural Australia”. “The results are the same across the whole political spectrum; and from city to the bush, people think the Prime Minster’s MRET is on the right track supporting renewable energy; and they want more clean energy from wind farms,” said Libby Anthony, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Wind Energy Association (AusWEA). The survey, conducted by Australian Research Group Pty Ltd in August 2003 on behalf of AusWEA, also found that 76 percent of respondents said they would be prepared to pay 5 percent more on their electricity bill if it meant that 10 percent more clean energy would be produced. According to the Australian Research Group the sample size of the national poll provides a 95 percent probability level that these results accurately reflect broader community attitudes. This result confirms findings earlier this year by Newspoll that a clear majority of consumers would pay between AUD$3.50 (US$2.42) and AUD$5.00 (US$3.40) per month extra on their electricity bill for 10 percent more renewable energy by 2010. “These results clearly demonstrate that people fully support the emerging wind energy industry, they want to see more wind farms developed around Australia and, quite importantly, they are prepared to pay for it,” said Ian Lloyd-Besson, President of AusWEA. “In supporting wind energy, Australians clearly understand the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributable to electricity generation, and they recognize the benefits of wind as a zero emission energy generation technology that can help achieve this,” Anthony said. With Australia’s first wind industry factory now open in Tasmania, Australians are also starting to see some of the job creation and rural investment benefits.” The broad level of support for increasing renewable energy generation confirms that AusWEA’s call to raise the MRET to 10 percent (from its current real level of less than 1 percent) by 2010 is fully consistent with public opinion.