Conservation Minnesota

BENCO Energy Survey Results

The BENCO co-op Energy Survey

Conservation Minnesota mailed nearly 4500 surveys to residents living in the BENCO Electric Cooperative service area asking if they support or oppose past and potential future actions related to energy use and conservation. The goal of the survey was to reach a broad cross section of the Co-Op’s members. The surveys were sent to a broad cross section of residents.

It is important to note that this is not a scientific survey, but can still provide important insight about community opinions and attitudes.

Key Findings

  • BENCO members were very interested in the survey. 619 people completed the survey, a response rate of over 13%. This more than six times a typical direct mail response rate.
  • Respondents strongly support existing co-op initiatives that have been leading the state when it comes to utilization of renewable energy sources.
  • Respondents also strongly support their local Co-Op taking additional steps to make sure they remain leaders of the state’s renewable energy movement.

Responses to Survey Questions 

( )= Strongly

Question 1: Electric cooperatives, like BENCO, were the first Minnesota electric utilities to offer wind energy and now lead the state’s community solar garden development. Do you support or oppose this action?

– Support:  80% (63%)
– Neutral: 8%
– Opposed:  12%

Question 2: BENCO electric and its power supplier Great River Energy will be building a solar facility close to Mankato in 2015. Do you support or oppose this action?

– Support:  80% (61%)
– Neutral: 7%
– Opposed:  13%

Question 3: Wind energy development throughout Southern Minnesota has led to the creation of thousands of new Minnesota jobs, significantly increased tax revenue for Minnesota communities, and a cleaner electric grid. Do you support or oppose this development?

– Support:  80% (62%)
– Neutral: 8%
– Opposed:  12%

Question 4: Working with solar and wind sources located mainly in Southern MN, Xcel Energy is planning to increase its electricity from renewable sources from 30% by the end of 2015 to 50% by 2030. Do you support or oppose this expansion of renewable energy?

– Support:  81%  (64%)
– Neutral:    7%
– Opposed:  12%

Question 5: BENCO Electric’s sole electricity power supplier, Great River Energy, plans to reduce its out-of-state coal use by only 9% from 67% today to 58% by 2029. Would you support or oppose further reductions in the use of coal to generate electricity?

– Support:  71% (51%)
– Neutral: 13%
– Opposed:  16%

Question 6: Would you support BENCO requesting that Great River Energy use local renewable energy to replace their older power plants when they are retired?

– Support:  81% (57%)
– Neutral: 7%
– Opposed:  12%

Question 7: Would you support BENCO choosing to meet increased state goals for renewable energy of 40% renewable by 2030?

– Support:  79% (58%)
– Neutral:  10%
– Opposed:  11%