POLL: Ohio’s Small Businesses Want Government Investments in Renewable Energy Technologies and Support Enforcement of EPA Clean Air Standards

Mary Huttlinger

Originally released June 7, 2012:

Ohio small business owners strongly support government investments in clean energy and believe such investments have an important role in creating jobs and boosting the economy, according to an opinion poll released today by Small Business Majority.

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, found that almost 7 out of 10 Ohio small business owners agree government has a role in driving our country toward a cleaner, more competitive economy. Small businesses support continued government investment in clean energy technologies, even when asked specifically about Solyndra—a manufacturer of solar cells that went bankrupt after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee. The poll also found strong support for new and current Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards that require a reduction in greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions, even if it means a possible increase in utility prices.

Ohio small businesses are eager for pragmatic energy policies that can help them develop new technologies and increase business opportunities. They understand that to survive in this tough economy they need creative solutions to curb costs and increase their competitive edge. These include continued government investments in clean energy and the enforcement of standards that reduce harmful emissions in their communities. Right now, giving small businesses the incentives and tools needed to drive job creation and increase market competitiveness should be a top priority.

When asked about the biggest problems facing their small business, 64 percent of respondents cited the rising costs of doing business—such as higher fuel and electricity costs (36 percent) and material and supply costs (28 percent). Twenty-four percent cited taxes as a top problem, 20 percent said it was lack of consumer demand and only 19 percent felt government regulations were a primary concern.

Small business owners demonstrated strong support for recently released EPA standards that require new power plants to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. A solid majority—68 percent—favor the EPA’s federal rule that new power plants reduce previously unlimited emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

With regard to incorporating clean energy into their business practices, 56 percent of Ohio small business owners are willing to install solar panels or some other source of clean energy and 53 percent are willing to switch to hybrid or electric vehicles.

“In 2009 we made a commitment to solar power,” said Todd Stegman, Chief Operating Officer of Osborne Coinage and Doran Manufacturing in Cincinnati. “As a global manufacturing company, we constantly focus on streamlining processes and fine-tuning efficiencies in order to reduce costs so that we can remain competitive. Making the move toward a clean energy source so that we could become more energy efficient was a logical step for us. Our three solar projects paid for themselves within the first three years.”

While respondents indicated overall support for government investment in general, specific government actions are even more popular. Across the board, small business owners expressed overwhelming support for 14 separate actions the federal government could take to support moving to a clean energy economy. A strong majority showed support for programs such as establishing minimum recycling standards, offering tax credits and rebates for upgrades, creating a “Green Bank” and increasing fuel efficiency standards.

“I believe government should invest in helping small businesses become more energy efficient, not only because it can save them money but because it makes good business sense,” said Ashley Chance, partner with eco development in Mason. “Any time a small business can operate more efficiently they become more competitive. Small businesses want to become more energy-efficient, but they need a little help. The more we can do to give them that help, the more successful they and our economy will be.”

Other findings from the poll include:

  • 74 percent of respondents support EPA rules to reduce the emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases from new and existing power plants. Nearly half (46 percent) strongly support it.
  • A firm majority (65 percent) of small business owners favor proposed rules to reduce smog and soot pollution that crosses state lines (the “Good Neighbor Rule”).
  • The vast majority (73 percent) of Ohio small business owners believe government should play an important role in creating financial incentives that encourage people to take energy efficiency measures, like installing energy efficient light bulbs. Close to seven out of 10 business owners believe government should provide incentives through funding and policy efforts.
  • Small business owners polled were politically diverse: 52 percent indentified as Republican, 35 percent as Democrat, and 7 percent as independent.

For more information visit: http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/clean-energy/

Poll results in this statement represent findings from an Internet survey of 600 small businesses in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Nevada and Colorado. The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Small Business Majority with a margin of error of +/- 4%.