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Small Business and Clean Energy Policy - National Survey

Publisher: 
Small Business Majority and Main Street Alliance
Date: 
Wednesday, 9 June, 2010

Small Business Majority, American Businesses for Clean Energy and We Can Lead commissioned a national survey of 800 small business owners across the country to learn their attitudes toward energy conservation practices and clean energy policies.

The results of the poll show that among small businesses there is strong support for clean energy and climate legislation; small businesses believe that clean energy policies will help the U.S. economy; and support for clean energy policies is even higher among Latino- and black-owned businesses.

Clean energy, as a policy matter, finds majority support among the survey respondents: 

  • 61% agree that moving the country to clean energy is a way to restart the economy and help small businesses create jobs; and
  • 58% think that adopting new energy policies will transform the economy and they want their business to be part of it.

When asked about clean energy and climate legislation, results were strong:

  • 50% of small business owners support clean energy and climate legislation.

Support for clean energy and climate legislation is strongest among members of local Chambers of Commerce and minority-owned businesses:

  • 60% of local chamber of commerce members support clean energy and climate legislation.
  • 60% of Hispanic and 78% of black small business owners support clean energy and climate legislation.

Despite the fact that nearly two-thirds think it would increase costs for their businesses, a majority of small business owners still want to move forward on clean energy and climate policy:

  • 48% of small businesses think an energy and climate bill will either not affect their business or will help it, while 45% think it would hurt their business.

Small business owners said they would be more likely to support energy legislation that includes incentives that would reduce up-front costs for energy efficiency improvements: 

  • 62% of small businesses say they would be more likely to support the bill if it included interest-free loans for energy-efficiency upgrades and small businesses that switch to clean energy;
  • 52% would be more likely to support the bill if it contained grants or subsidies to help small businesses upgrade to more energy-efficient equipment;
  • 52% would be more likely to support the bill if it contained free training or consultation on how to profit from the emerging clean energy industry;
  • 44% would be more likely to support the bill if it provided free energy audits to help businesses learn about their energy use, waste and conservation options.

Most small businesses are already employing some measures to conserve energy, and many are interested in doing even more. The primary motivation for small business owners who have taken steps toward conservation is saving money. Small business owners who have not taken steps to conserve energy also cite financial concerns, saying that it is too expensive or will not save them enough money to make it worthwhile.

Demographics snapshot

  • 79% of respondents owned companies with 5 or fewer employees
  • 65% had gross revenues of under $500,000; 51% under $250,000
  • 41% of small businesses were women- and/or minority-owned
  • 86% of small businesses have a Caucasian owner, 6% have an African American owner, and 7% have an Hispanic owner
  • 48% had a college-level education or higher
  • 33% identified as Republican, 26% as Democrat and 22% as independent

The results in this report are based on a national poll of small business owners conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and American Viewpoint that was commissioned by Small Business Majority, American Businesses for Clean Energy and We Can Lead. The poll reached a national sample of 600 small business owners, all with fewer than 100 employees, and was supplemented by oversamples of 100 African American (N=124 total) and 100 Hispanic business owners (N=121 total). The margin of sampling error for the total sample is +/- 4.0 percentage points. The poll was conducted March 24 to April 6, 2010. Please see Appendix A for additional information about the methodology.

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