California green energy proposal has thin support

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Awareness is low, but 63 percent of those who had a view on it favor a California ballot measure that would require half the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025, a Field poll issued on Tuesday shows.

Voter awareness of Proposition 7 on the November ballot is extremely low -- 82 percent of those interviewed said they did not know of the measure.

Phone interviews of 672 likely voters were conducted last week, Field Research said. Voters were asked opinions on several issues on the statewide ballot this November.

On the renewable energy measure, 24 percent said they were likely to vote against it and 13 percent said they were undecided.

Renewable power includes wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and small hydropower projects. In California, large, existing hydropower projects are not included in counts of renewable energy.

Proposition 7 matches existing California goals of having 20 percent of power generated by renewables by 2010, but also calls for more stringent requirements of 40 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025.

California’s current target is for 33 percent of electricity to come from renewable power by 2020.

Proposition 7’s main proponent, Jim Gonzalez, a former San Francisco supervisor, said the poll shows Californians want to raise renewable power targets in the face of global warming.

“California can be a leader in new technologies to increase clean energy requirements for utilities,” Gonzalez said.

Public and investor-owned utilities, as well as many environmental groups, oppose the measure, saying the effort is well-intentioned but ill-conceived and too costly.

“The survey results are no surprise,” said Kathy Fairbanks, who works for one group opposed to the measure. “Eighty-two percent of voters were not aware of Prop. 7 nor were they educated about its flaws.”

Opponents also say the proposal would drive up prices for renewable power by setting targets that would force utilities to sign contracts regardless of how much they cost.

Once the issue gathers more attention, the number of opponents to Proposition 7 would swell, she said.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Braden Reddall