Poll: Iowans against key points of proposed nuclear energy bill

About three-quarters of Iowa voters are against raising electricity rates now to cover the cost of building a new nuclear reactor in the future, according to a poll released today. Survey USA polled 600 Iowa registered voters between April 19 and April 21. The environmental non-profit group Friends of the Earth commissioned the survey, which also found that a large majority of respondents would rather invest in renewable energy than nuclear power. Nearly 90 percent said it would be unfair to let MidAmerican Energy keep money raised for nuclear plant construction even if the utility cancels the project.

Survey USA posted full cross-tabs here. After the jump I’ve posted topline results for each of the poll questions and background on Senate File 390, which the upper chamber will vote on this week.

1. Are you in favor of or opposed to paying higher electricity rates to pay for the construction of a new nuclear reactor?

17 percent in favor, 74 percent opposed, 9 percent not sure (over 60 percent opposed in every subgroup; over 70 percent opposed in all but two subgroups)

2. Should your representatives in the Iowa legislature vote for or against permitting the electricity rates of customers to be increased now to pay for future construction of a new nuclear reactor?

16 percent “vote for,” 75 percent “vote against,” 8 percent not sure (over 60 percent opposed in every subgroup; over 70 percent opposed in all but two subgroups)

3. Legislation would pave the way for MidAmerican Energy to raise the public’s electricity rates to build a new nuclear reactor. MidAmerican could keep the money even if a new nuclear reactor is ultimately not built. Do you think this is fair? Or un-fair?

9 percent fair, 88 percent unfair, 4 percent not sure (over 80 percent in every subgroup said “unfair”)

4. Would you rather Iowans invest in nuclear reactors or renewable energy sources like wind?

22 percent nuclear reactors, 70 percent renewable energy sources, 8 percent not sure (over 60 percent preferred renewable energy in all but one subgroup)

It’s disheartening that lawmakers from both parties support MidAmerican Energy’s plan to raise rates on hundreds of thousands of Iowans. Many people pay more in utility bills than they do in state taxes, yet legislators who wouldn’t dream of proposing a tax hike are eager to let MidAmerican impose huge new costs on its captive market.

Nuclear power is such a bad investment that financing has failed to materialize for projects in other states, despite government incentives. The CEO of the largest American nuclear power plant operator opposes government action to spur new nuclear energy projects.

The best chance of stopping nuclear power legislation is in the Iowa Senate. Senators may vote on Senate File 390 as early as Tuesday, April 26. Nine Senate Democrats have urged their colleagues to shelve this bill to allow further consideration of the risks, costs and benefits of expanding nuclear power in Iowa. Click here for more background information on MidAmerican’s “Misguided Pursuit of Nuclear Power.” You can e-mail your senator using this form and sample letter, although it’s always better to use your own words when communicating with state legislators. You can leave phone messages for your senator through the Senate switchboard: (515) 281-3371.

Normally overwhelming public opposition would be enough to kill a bill, but MidAmerican has given a lot of money to Iowa candidates and political action committees in recent years. If senators lack the political will to vote down this disastrous idea, the least they could do is table the bill until after MidAmerican completes a three-year feasibility study on expanding nuclear power in Iowa. Ratepayers are footing the bill for that $15 million study, incidentally, thanks to a bill the Democratic-controlled Iowa legislature passed and Governor Chet Culver signed last year.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread. Here’s Survey USA’s statement of methodology, from the Friends of the Earth press release on the Survey USA poll.

SurveyUSA’s complete poll results are available at: http://www.surveyusa.com/clien…

SurveyUSA Statement of Methodology: About the Poll: This poll was conducted by telephone in the voice of a professional announcer. Respondent households were selected at random, using Random Digit Dialed (RDD) sample provided by Survey Sampling, of Fairfield CT. All respondents heard the questions asked identically. The pollster’s report includes the geography that was surveyed; the date(s) interviews were conducted, the number of respondents who answered each question and the theoretical margin of sampling error for each question. Where necessary, respondents were weighted using the most recent US Census estimates for age, gender, ethnic origin and region, to align the sample to the population. In theory, one can say with 95% certainty that the results would not vary by more than the stated margin of sampling error, in one direction or the other, had the entire universe of respondents with home telephones been interviewed with complete accuracy. There are other possible sources of error in all surveys that may be more serious than sampling error. These include: the difficulty of interviewing respondents who do not have a home telephone; the refusal by some with home telephones to be interviewed; the order in which questions are asked; the wording of questions; the way and extent to which data are weighted; and the manner in which specialized populations, such as likely voters, are determined. It is difficult to quantify the errors that may result from these and other factors. Research methodology, questionnaire design and fieldwork for this survey were completed by SurveyUSA of Clifton, NJ. This statement conforms to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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