David Kirkpatrick

November 19, 2008

Obama may find new energy initiatives difficult …

Filed under: Business, Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:33 pm

… according to this year’s Energy Pulse study.

The release:

Obama White House to Face Long-Held Consumer Denial and Awareness Hurdles in Realizing New Energy Solutions

Consumers Blame Government, Assume Little Self-Responsibility

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ — As President-Elect Barack Obama prepares to address energy as one of the top issues on the U.S. agenda, his administration will face long-held U.S. consumer denial about personal responsibility in driving energy demand and resulting prices – as well as consumers’ “tailpipe-driven” understanding of energy use and environmental impact.

(Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081119/CLW024LOGO )

Despite government reports documenting that consumers now use more electricity than five years ago, Shelton Group’s fourth annual Energy Pulse study reports in a recent survey that 61 percent of consumers deny using more.

Meanwhile, Energy Pulse also reflects widespread economic concern tied to energy use, with 62 percent of Americans indicating they have experienced home utility cost increases of 10-30 percent or more.

“For the first time in four years, we increasingly see economic concerns driving consumer interest in conserving energy,” said Suzanne Shelton, CEO of Shelton Group, an advertising agency that independently sponsors the study.

“However, one thing hasn’t changed since 2005: most Americans don’t view their own consumption behaviors or energy-use demand as having much to do with energy costs,” Shelton said.  In fact, Energy Pulse 2008 finds that less than one-fourth of consumers mention U.S. consumer demand as most to blame for rising energy prices.

“The Obama Administration will be especially challenged in effecting change if the electorate never understands how energy use – and not just tailpipes – impacts the environment and how consumers’ own behaviors are critical,” Shelton said.

While more consumers are becoming knowledgeable about renewable energy, one-third erroneously think cars and trucks are the No. 1 cause of global warming, while only four percent cite the actual primary culprit of greenhouse emissions: coal-fired electric plants, today’s most prominent source to heat, cool and power buildings – largely homes.

For three previous years (2005-2007), Energy Pulse has found that Americans primarily blame the U.S. government for high energy prices.  In response to this finding, Shelton Group expanded this area of the Energy Pulse 2008 study by dividing this query into two different questions: “Who is most to blame for home energy costs?” and “Who is most to blame for rising gasoline costs?”

These dual questions resulted in very different answers.  Americans still primarily blame the U.S. government for high home energy costs (27 percent), followed by U.S. consumer demand (22 percent).  Interestingly, utilities registered far down the list, at 5 percent.

Also of note: most consumers either blamed kids in the home for increased electricity usage or said they did not think they used more electricity because they now had no kids in the home.

Oil companies were thought to be the primary culprits for rising gasoline costs (27 percent). Even so, the U.S. government was the second most common answer, at 24 percent.

Energy Pulse further asked, “Should the government be doing more to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels?”  The overwhelming answer – by 90 percent – was “yes.”

Those who responded affirmatively were then asked “What should the government be doing?”  The top answers were “should invest more in research to find alternatives” (29 percent), “should be more proactive and develop a plan” (16 percent), and “should allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and / or off the U.S. coast” (13 percent).

When asked the primary reason to participate in energy conservation activities or purchases, the top three answers were the same as in 2007 but shifted in order, with saving money No. 1 – again, reflecting more tough economic times:

1.) To save money (ranked No. 3 in 2007)

2.) To protect our environment and save natural resources (remained No. 2 from 2007)

3.) To preserve the quality of life for future generations (ranked No. 1 in 2007)

Energy Pulse 2008(R), by Shelton Group, was fielded to 504 respondents by telephone in September 2008 and has a +/- 4.37 percent margin of error, based on the total number of U.S. households.

Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Shelton Group is an advertising agency entirely focused on energy, energy efficiency and sustainability.  Founded more than 17 years ago by CEO Suzanne Shelton, Shelton Group uniquely understands the consumer mindset as it relates to energy, energy efficiency, conservation and green marketing – based on its portfolio that includes a multi-year range of original consumer research (Energy Pulse, Eco Pulse) and client work for such accounts as BP Solar, Andersen Windows, Vectren Energy, Knauf Insulation and the American Institute of Architects.  Energy Pulse 2008 methodology and other details available upon request.

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081119/CLW024LOGO
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: Shelton Group