news+events

News: Want to get conservatives to save energy? Stop the environmentalist preaching

This is the third article in a three-part series titled “Your Brain on Energy” for our new Energy and Environment coverage. 

In San Diego, the solar rooftop market is booming. And no wonder: Electricity is expensive, but sunshine is plentiful – and it doesn’t hurt that California has shined its policy radiance on the solar industry. The city boasts more than 44,000 residential solar installations – and most strikingly, they’re not all owned by liberal do-gooders.

Not by a long shot.

Instead, as solar has become more popular, it has increasingly tapped into a base of more ideologically conservative customers, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy, a local nonprofit supporting clean power.

“When it was more of a fringe technology, you would see a natural gravitation towards the technology by people who are more liberal,” says Timothy Treadwell, a director at the center. “Now that solar is mainstream, that distinction, and that kind of self-selection, is pretty much gone from the market.”

So what happened? Treadwell recently surveyed 1,200 San Diego area solar adopters about their political beliefs and why they had installed solar. Liberals and conservatives were evenly mixed in the group. Their reasons for installing panels were very different: While liberals were much more likely to do so for environmental reasons, conservatives held to hard-nosed economic ones, like reducing their electricity costs.

Read the full story. (Washington Post)