New Statewide Survey Shows Concern over Extreme Weather Grows to Historic Highs
The research also reveals super-majority of California voters strongly support transitioning away from the use of diesel-fired generators
SAN JOSE, Calif. – September 09, 2021 – A new survey of 600 likely California 2022 voters finds both a growing concern about key energy issues facing the State and increased support for government efforts to shift California to cleaner and more renewable sources of energy. More specifically, these poll results show that California voters broadly support a range of State policies to encourage decarbonization efforts and facilitate the development of fuel cell microgrids.
California voters are increasingly concerned about climate change and its impacts, with 85 percent surveyed ranking wildfires as an extremely or very serious problem. Only homelessness was seen as a more serious problem in the survey conducted by California-based FM3 Research.
Also of growing concern to likely 2022 voters is the effects of drought, with four out of five of those surveyed listing it as an extremely or very serious problem. The impact of climate change and extreme weather on California has also grown to historic highs, with two-thirds of voters now ranking it as an extremely or very serious problem.
As voters focus on the problems of fire, drought and climate change, they are showing a growing uneasiness with the negative effects of diesel-generated solutions being used to provide backup power across the State. The poll shows that only 22 percent of voters supported increasing diesel generation to provide emergency back-up power, with 58 percent expressing a desire to see diesel generation reduced.
In contrast, two-thirds of voters would like to see an increase in non-combustion fuel cells that virtually eliminate local smog-forming air pollution as a back-up power option.
“As soon as voters understand how fuel cells work and how the technology reduces harmful local pollution, they demonstrate strong support for using fuel cells to make the grid more resilient and safer,” said FM3 lead researcher Dave Metz.
When the science of fuel cells was explained to voters in the following language, support for their widespread adoption rose to 80 percent:
“Next, I’d like to tell you a bit more about non-combustion fuel cells. Fuel cells are a technology that generate electricity from natural gas, biogas, or hydrogen found in water, without releasing local air pollution like smog and particulate matter. Fuel cells installed at local sites are designed to serve as an alternative to the electric grid, providing reliable, locally-generated clean energy that is available 24 hours per day at locations such as hospitals, grocery stores, universities, and data centers – as well as other businesses and homes. The technology continues to evolve and has recently been adapted to use hydrogen, with no CO2 emissions, to generate electricity. Do you support or oppose increasing the use of non-combustion fuel cells in California?”
Voters also broadly support increasing the use of non-combustion fuel cells as part of the State’s transition to 100 percent clean energy, expressing preference for the use of fuel cells over diesel generators. By a 62-point margin, voters also expressed strong support for the specific benefits of wider adoption of fuel cell technology, particularly making the electricity grid more resilient, reducing the threat of wildfires by supporting microgrid technology, and providing reliable energy during Public Safety Power Shutoffs.
The poll was commissioned by Bloom Energy and conducted by FM3 Research to assess voters’ attitudes toward key California energy issues and understanding of the role fuel cells can play in meeting critical capacity needs in the State, bolstering power resiliency, and providing a pathway to greener and cleaner forms of energy. The poll was conducted from August 2nd to 5th, before the Caldor Fire, which has likely increased concern over extreme weather and the impacts of climate change.
The solid oxide fuel cells manufactured in California by Bloom Energy use natural gas, biogas or hydrogen to generate on-site electricity without combustion and virtually no harmful, smog-forming emissions. The technology is dramatically cleaner now than alternatives and is engineered to use 100 percent greenhouse gas-free sources, like hydrogen and biogas, as they become available. Bloom Energy’s fuel cells consume almost no water during operation, which is particularly critical during times of drought. Since 2011, Bloom Energy’s systems have saved more than 291 billion gallons of water.
Considering these facts, voters see non-combustion fuel cells as the smarter alternative to air polluting diesel generation during power outages, with an overwhelming 72 percent of voters preferring fuel cells and just 17 percent supporting diesel.
As a part of building decarbonization policies, seven in ten voters support allowing continued use of non-combustion fuel cells as an alternative to natural gas-fired power plants and diesel generators. Voters also strongly supported policies making it easier and more affordable to install fuel cell technology – particularly when the issue was explained in the following manner:
“Next, let me ask you about another issue. State government is currently considering a policy that would make it easier for property owners to install non-combustion fuel cells on their property, based on a long-term agreement for how the energy they produce would be connected to and integrated with California’s energy grid. Does this sound like something you would support or oppose?”
Furthermore, FM3 Research’s survey shows that approximately two-thirds of California voters oppose allowing utilities to charge a fee to customers who want to install a non-combustion fuel cell to generate clean energy locally.
“This research underscores the fact that Californians embrace non-combustion fuel cell technology, which brings clean, resilient and cost-predictable energy to help the State address the growing danger of extreme weather, power blackouts, droughts and climate change,” said Carl Guardino, executive vice president of government affairs and policy, Bloom Energy. “The distinct advantages offered by non-combustion fuel cells – namely the virtual elimination of local emissions, lack of water use and ability to use clean hydrogen as a fuel source – are preferred over diesel generators and natural gas-fired plants as part of the State’s energy transition.”
FM3 Research’s full report on the survey findings can be found at: https://www.bloomenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/fm3-research-ca-vote-views-of-key-energy-issues-aug-2021.pdf
About FM3 Research
FM3 Research is a California-based company that has been conducting public policy-oriented opinion research since 1981. With offices in Los Angeles and Oakland, the firm conducts research for businesses, non-profit groups, elected officials and ballot measure campaigns across the country. FM3 has provided polling to hundreds of California legislators, members of Congress, and local elected officials over its four decades conducting research in the state.
About Bloom Energy
Bloom Energy’s mission is to make clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone in the world. Bloom’s product, the Bloom Energy Server, delivers highly reliable and resilient, always-on electric power that is clean, cost-effective, and ideal for microgrid applications. Bloom’s customers include many Fortune 100 companies and leaders in manufacturing, data centers, healthcare, retail, higher education, utilities, and other industries. For more information, visit www.bloomenergy.com.