The Lead

Fossil fuel industry group-backed poll finds Pennsylvanians uninformed about nuke proposal, skeptical when educated

By: - April 26, 2019 12:16 pm
Rep. Thomas Mehaffie unveils his proposal for Pennsylvania's nuclear industry at an ironworkers' union hall in Harrisburg.

Rep. Thomas Mehaffie unveils his proposal for Pennsylvania’s nuclear industry at an ironworkers’ union hall in Harrisburg.

A poll funded by a fossil fuel-boosting organization shows 77 percent of Pennsylvanians have heard little or nothing about a deal that would aid the state’s nuclear industry at the expense of consumers. 

The poll was sponsored by the Secure Energy for America Association, which supports “fair policies and regulation of the coal and natural gas industry.” It found that 46 percent of Pennsylvanians disapprove of a plan for ratepayers to subsidize the state’s five nuclear plants, according to a press release.

Unlike two earlier polls which found strong support for a deal to aid the nuclear plant — a Franklin and Marshall survey placed support at 50 percent at least somewhat in favor — this poll told respondents the cost of the proposed deal.

SEA’s poll found that just 39 percent of voters approved the plan knowing the cost.

The poll also used an earlier estimate, of $981 million, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. The center has since revised their cost estimate down to $500 million to state ratepayers.

The poll found that 44 percent of respondents were less likely to support a legislator who voted for the bailout, while 34 percent were more likely.

Opposition was particularly strong among Republicans, 43 percent of whom said they strongly opposed the deal outright. When informed that the companies seeking assistance were profitable, strong opposition grew by 12 percentage points among GOP voters.

According to independent market analysis, all of the Keystone state’s nuclear plants except Three Mile Island are in the black.

The 500-person survey had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.