Data Also Shows Wind Farms Most Preferred Power Plant

HINGHAM, MAOctober 10, 2007Americans are waking up to the need for more electric power plants.

The number of Americans who support power plant development in their hometown rose dramatically over the past year, according to the 2007 Saint Index© survey on attitudes toward real estate development.

Thirty-eight percent of American adults support a local power plant project, compared to just 23 percent in 2006 — a 15 percent rise.

Where power plants and quarries were the second most-opposed land uses a year ago, even Wal-Mart, shopping malls and casinos drew more opposition as local development projects this year. (Landfills remained the most reviled local land use by Americans, matched by casinos this year.)

Fifty-seven percent of American adults still oppose construction of a new power plant in their community, but that is down significantly from last year (74 percent).

The third annual Saint Index interviewed a representative sample of 1,000 Americans, age 18 and older. The Index was conducted during the third quarter of 2007, and is the first of its kind to quantify and track the politics of land use, spotlighting who actively opposes and supports real estate-related projects and why.

Support and opposition to all types of power plants tracks fairly consistently across all geographic regions of the U.S., with the Midwest the most receptive region to new power plant construction.

‘’Americans are accepting the reality that we need more power generation,” said Patrick Fox, president of The Saint Consulting Group, the international land use political consultancy that created The Saint Index. “But our experience is fierce local opposition will emerge against any controversial development project — even when most people agree it’s needed. Power plants certainly remain among the least-desired types of development. The support identified by The Saint Index has to be organized and leveraged to show politicians they can safely approve these projects in defiance of organized opponents.”

The power plant findings should be encouraging to energy producers in light of the nation’s attitude toward real estate development in general. Seventy-eight percent of Americans believe there should be no new development in their community, saying their hometown is fine the way it is or already over-developed, The Saint Index found. That opposition is 5 percent more than 2006.

Among the other key survey findings on power plants:

  • Health and environmental concerns drive opposition to power plant construction.
  • Wind farms are by far the most supported type of power plant (76 percent).
  • Nuclear power plants generate the most opposition (65 percent).

Health & Environmental Concerns
One in three respondents said health and environmental concerns drive their opposition to power plant projects in their communities. Women appear to be most concerned about the potential health impacts, while men are most worried about the environmental implications of power plants.

Gender is a factor
Men are more likely to support a power plant in general (48 percent) than women (29 percent). Women (72 percent) are much more opposed to nuclear power plants than men (52 percent).

The Saint Index also looked at preferences in the 2008 presidential election, finding that Giuliani supporters are the more favorable toward nuclear plants (49 percent). Among supporters of other candidates, the following percent support nuclear power plant development: Thompson, 47 percent; McCain, 42 percent; Clinton, 30 percent; Romney, 30 percent; Edwards, 27 percent; Obama, 25 percent.

Wind Farms Preferred
Wind farms are by far the most preferred type of power plant, topping the next two most-favored types — bio diesel and hydropower— by nearly 20 points. Seventy-percent of Americans support a wind farms in their hometown, while Hydro plants have 53 percent support and bio diesel plants 50 percent. Not only do wind farms have the highest rate of support, they have the most consistent rate of support as well. Across the board, regardless of income, education, age, political ideology, or region of the country, wind farms received on average over 72 percent support from all respondents. It is also worth mentioning that McCain supporters favor wind farms at the highest rate (89 percent) while Romney supporters were last at 65 percent.

Summary Results
Q. Please tell me how you would feel if a Power Plant or Utility was proposed in your community?
Oppose: 57 percent
Support: 38 percent

REGION % Oppose %Support
Northeast 60 34
Mid-Atlantic 61 32
South 57 37
Midwest 52 44
West 59 36
Type of Power Plant % Oppose % Support
Oil, Coal, Natural Gas 58 37
Hydro 40 53
Nuclear 65 31
Biofuel 38 50
Wind 20 76

Other Interesting Findings on Development:

  • One-quarter of adult Americans have opposed a development project, twice as many as have supported one.
  • Seven out of 10 Americans grade their community C or worse when deciding what does and does not get built.
  • Almost three in four Americans (71%) believe that the relationship between developers and officials makes the development process unfair (down from 75% last year). The most cynical about the development process are aged 46-55, live in the Mid-Atlantic, lean/vote Democrat and prefer Barack Obama or an unspecified Democrat as our next president.
  • Twenty-four percent of Americans say they or a family member have actively opposed development. The most active among us are aged 56-65, college educated or post grad educated, wealthy households of over $100K, suburbanite, West Coast residents, and liberal.

The Saint Index was created by The Saint Consulting Group in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Economic and Civic Opinion. This year’s survey was performed by The Logit Group between the dates of August 1 and August 10, 2007. One thousand respondents were randomly selected from the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. The maximum margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval nationwide.

About SAINT

The Saint Consulting Group began operations in 1983 and today is the global leader in land use political consultancy. Saint has 13 offices around the US and international offices in London, England and Toronto, Canada. As experts in land use politics, Saint Consulting provides political campaign expertise to win complex or controversial planning decisions. Among the property sectors that use its services are: aggregates, food retail, shopping centres, hospitals, landfill, mixed-use developers, housing, and utilities.

The Saint Index© is the first and only annual primary research tool that quantifies and tracks the politics of land use, spotlighting who actively opposes and supports real estate projects and why.

The Saint Consulting Group is happy to run customized reports for journalists, that focus on your beat, whether your interest is specific to a region, property type, demographic or other area. Executives from The Saint Consulting Group are available for interviews, and we are happy to generate customized graphics for publication on an as-needed basis. Additional detailed information, raw data and data analysis is also available upon request, as it relates to your coverage.

For further details, see the backgrounder and contact:

US: Stephen Shepherd at shepherd@tscg.biz and +1 781 749 7290 ext. 7121

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