Poll Finds Large, Bipartisan Majority of Americans Support Solar

The headlines recently on solar power seem to portend the end of the gravy train for the clean energy industry. From Solyndra to EverGreen, the conventional wisdom seems to be saying that the glory days of solar power are dwindling.

But the conventional wisdom couldn't be more wrong.

Americans overwhelmingly support solar energy development and federal investments, according to the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer(TM), a nationally representative survey conducted annually by independent polling firm Kelton Research.

The poll found that 9 out of 10 Americans think it is important for the United States to develop and use solar power, and 8 out of 10 think it's important for the federal government to support U.S. solar manufacturing.

I've said it before: the future is bright for solar in the United States.

But what the conventional wisdom seems to misunderstand is that solar future won't come from Washington loan guarantees or a climate bill. Instead, it will come from the demands of American consumers who want to buy clean, renewable energy and who want to be energy efficient.

And consumers are responding.

If there's one place we've seen this kind of universal espousal for solar, it's Arizona. Homeowners of all financial and political backgrounds are defending the renewable energy source as though it's their own. In a way, I suppose it is.

Yuma, Az., is the sunniest city in the world, a fact that Mayor and Tea Party member Alan Krieger pointed out at Solar Up Yuma, an event that educated locals about the capacity for solar to create a wealth of jobs and businesses in Yuma. Indeed, Yuma is ripe with solar development opportunities, and I am pleased to see recognition of this coming from local leaders.

If we can maintain this positive, cooperative sentiment -- and increase consumer demand towards solar, I have no doubt that the United States can pull ahead of China and Germany to reclaim its role as the ultimate example of innovation and prosperity.

Brian Keane is the President of SmartPower, a non-profit marketing organization funded by private foundations to help build the clean energy marketplace by helping the American public become smarter about their energy use.