More than 40 percent of Americans east of the Mississippi, and just over a third of those to the west, are willing to pay at least $10 a month more on their utility bills for grid upgrades according to a poll released this summer by Harris Interactive. The average U.S. utility bill in 2012 was just over $105 a month according to data from the Energy Information Agency.



A recent poll found many Americans would pay 10 percent higher utility bills if the money was used to improve the reliability of the power grid. 
Photo used under a Creative Commons license and from Wikimedia

One possible explanation for the difference was that respondents east of the Mississippi were three times more likely to report a power outage (three percent against one percent.)

The poll, conducted for GE’s Digital Energy business, surveyed more than 2,000 voting-age Americans in early spring 2014.

The poll also found that more than 80 percent of respondents wanted their utility to do more to encourage energy conservation and nearly the same number wanted their utility to increase renewable energy generation with solar, wind and geothermal biogas.

 The poll also asked questions about the public’s understanding of the grid. More than 50 percent believed weather was the greatest threat to the grid. In the Northeast, 61 percent thought so.

Utility Department Director Jim Hunter said the poll provided valuable support for investments in manpower and infrastructure.

“There is nothing in this poll that we haven’t known anecdotally, but accurate polling data is very useful when we talk with lawmakers and regulators,” Hunter said. “But, a lot of this is just common sense.  The more our lives depend on electronic devices, the more people realize how important the grid is. A smartphone isn’t very useful if you can’t charge it.”