Small Business Majority Blog

Small Business Matters

Mary Huttlinger

Mary Huttlinger

Originally released on July 17, 2012:

Michigan small business owners overwhelmingly support increasing the state’s renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025, according to opinion polling released by Small Business Majority. Nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) Michigan small businesses support setting standards that require utilities to meet a certain percentage of energy demand through renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-fuels (for example, requiring a 25 percent target in renewable fuels by 2025). A state initiative that would require Michigan to have 25 percent of its electric energy produced by renewable resources by 2025 is expected to be on the November ballot.

Michigan small business owners also strongly support government investments in clean energy and believe such investments have an important role in creating jobs and boosting the economy—even if it means an increase in utility costs.

Small business owners in Michigan are eager for pragmatic energy policies that can help them develop new technologies and increase business opportunities. They understand that to survive in this tough economy they need creative solutions to curb costs and increase their competitive edge. These include continued government investments in clean energy and the enforcement of standards that reduce harmful emissions in their communities. Right now, giving small businesses the incentives and tools needed to drive job creation and increase market competitiveness should be a top priority.

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, found nearly 7 out of 10 Michigan small business owners agree government has a role in driving our country toward a cleaner, more competitive economy. In fact, small businesses support continued government investment in clean energy technologies, even when asked specifically about Solyndra: Sixty-two percent agree the failure of the company—which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government—doesn’t mean the government should stop investing in renewable technologies.

Small business owners also demonstrated strong support for recently released Environmental Protection Agency standards that require new power plants to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. An overwhelming majority—81 percent—favor the EPA’s rule that new power plants reduce previously unlimited emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. What’s more, 60 percent would still support this rule even if it means a possible increase in utility prices.

When asked about the biggest problems facing their small business, Michigan small businesses cite the rising cost of doing business, such as higher material and supply costs (37 percent), and lack of consumer demand (32 percent) as their biggest problems. Only 14 percent of small businesses say government regulation is one of their two biggest problems.

While respondents indicated overall support for government investment in general, specific government actions are even more popular. Across the board, small business owners expressed overwhelming support for 14 separate actions the federal government could take to support moving to a clean energy economy. A strong majority showed support for programs such as establishing minimum recycling standards, offering tax credits and rebates for upgrades, creating a “Green Bank” and increasing fuel efficiency standards.

“EPA regulation of carbon emissions would directly affect my business by increasing awareness of companies that embrace clean alternative energy sources,” said Jonathan Tobias, President of Michigan Green Cabs in Wixom, Michigan. “Any time we see a shift in our industry’s focus there is a surge in consumer consciousness and support for businesses that embrace cleaner technologies.”

Other findings from the poll include:

  • 86 percent of respondents support EPA rules to reduce the emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases from new and existing power plants. More than half (53 percent) strongly support it.
  • 74 percent of small business owners favor proposed rules to reduce smog and soot pollution that crosses state lines (the “Good Neighbor Rule”)
  • 77 percent of Michigan small business owners believe government should play an important role in creating financial incentives that encourage people to take energy efficiency measures, like installing energy efficient light bulbs. Almost eight out of 10 business owners believe government should provide incentives through funding and policy efforts.
  • 65 percent of Michigan small business owners are willing to install solar panels or some other source of clean energy and 57 percent are willing to switch to hybrid or electric vehicles
  • Small business owners polled were politically diverse: 39 percent identified as Republican, 38 percent as Democrat, 10 percent as independent and 13 percent as “other.

For more information visit: http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/clean-energy/

Poll results in this statement represent findings from an Internet survey of 600 small businesses in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Nevada and Colorado. The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Small Business Majority with a margin of error of +/- 4%.