NJIT Poll: Potential Energy Crisis Hot On The Minds Of State Residents

NEWARK, July 17--The energy debate is heating up among many New Jersey residents. A survey recently conducted for New Jersey Institute of Technology found that more than half the residents polled believe the country, including New Jersey, is headed for an energy crisis. Adding more fuel to their concerns, almost 51 percent polled believe blackouts are likely this summer.

The survey found that 75 percent of those polled believe higher energy prices are a problem, but at least those many indicated a willingness to reduce consumption to lower costs. Residents, though, were cold when asked to reach into their pockets, overwhelmingly opposing measures to raise or pay more taxes to solve an energy crisis.

New Jersey residents have energy on their minds

More Highlights

·        Close to half (44%) of residents polled say that they think the state is headed for an energy crisis.  A majority of residents, 51 percent, say it is likely that there will be electricity shortages and blackouts in New Jersey this summer.

Though the threatening consequences of an energy crisis, such as blackouts, brownouts, lines for gasoline and high oil and electricity prices, are real, respondents suspect that the shortage has been fabricated. More than one in three, or about 35 percent think we are being told that there are shortages.

·        When the poll was conducted from June 20-21, 2001 most people polled,  93 percent, said that gasoline prices had escalated.  Nevertheless, most of them also said that the price of a gallon of gas would not go higher.  More than four out of five residents. or 84 percent, think that the price of gas will go no higher than $2.24, and one in four (23%) think the price will stay the same or go down.

While about three-quarters of  the residents believe that gasoline prices would be a financial hardship for them and their families,  75 percent of them said that they would not change their summer vacation plans.

·        Most  residents, 75 percent or more, say that they would support measures to conserve energy.  They would take shorter showers, put lights on timers, use air conditioners less, and wash clothes in cold water.  Even 56 percent of them would air dry their clothing.

ü      The one thing a majority of  people are not willing to do is go to bed earlier.  Half of women, 49 percent, and even more men , 55 percent,  say they are not willing to turn in early for the sake of conservation.

Residents support the idea of increasing the required fuel efficiency of sport utility vehicles or expanding high occupancy vehicle lanes to encourage carpooling, but oppose the idea of lowering the speed limit and vehemently oppose any increase in gasoline taxes.

ü      People especially oppose increasing gasoline taxes to encourage fuel efficiency.  Only 9 percent of them  say  a tax increase is excellent or good.

ü      A majority of them, 57 percent, think that price controls on gasoline, electricity rates and oil prices are excellent or good.

Despite the larger trend to resist measures that would inconvenience consumers, more than four in ten residents say they would volunteer to be “browned out” from time to time, in exchange for a lower rate. College educated New Jerseyans are more likely to say that they’d take less-consistent service to get the lower rate. 

·        While more than half of the residents who responded to the poll say that they would support the construction of a new power generating plant in their county, when that power plant is a nuclear one, their support drops. This is the case, even though three out of four people say that nuclear power plants are just as safe or safer than they were 25 years ago.

The poll was conducted among 400 New Jersey adults  selected randomly from a list of residential phone numbers.  The interviews, conducted in the state’s north, south and central region, was established by a quota and based on census population figures in New Jersey counties.  The margin of error for this survey is ±4.9% on the overall sample.  The margin of error on sub samples is greater.

Sebastian was the valedictorian of the Stevens Institute of Technology class of 1974 and a 1970 graduate of Wilton High School, Wilton, CT. His parent Hubert and Ethel Sebastian remain residents of Wilton. Donald, his wife Catherine, and daughter Caitlyn Ann live in Randolph.

NJIT is a public research university enrolling over 8,200 bachelor's, master's and doctoral students in 80 degree programs through its five colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, the School of Management and the Albert Dorman Honors College. Research initiatives include manufacturing, microelectronics, multimedia, transportation, computer science, solar astrophysics, environmental engineering and science, and architecture and building science. According to Yahoo! Internet Life magazine rankings, NJIT has been America's most wired public university for three consecutive years.

Contact Information:   Sheryl Weinstein
Public Relations
(973) 596-3436