More than a quarter of US consumers say they are willing to pay one-fifth more monthly for electricity to help power companies change to cleaner fuel, according to a survey issued in mid-October by top consultants Deloitte & Touche (D&T). But one-third of those interviewed in the 2000 Consumer Awareness Survey of Electric Deregulation say they will not pay that much. The question was asked in the context of global warming, the focus of international talks held in The Hague, Netherlands, in November. Branko Terzic, D&T's director of energy and utility services, cautions that the survey asked consumers how willing they are to pay a green surcharge to "to help electric companies change to cleaner fuel," phrasing that may have increased negative responses. In addition, those interviewed were told "some scientists believe" that burning coal to produce electricity contributes to global warming, which implies that the link between global warming and carbon dioxide emissions is far less accepted by mainstream scientists than it actually is. In other results of the survey, about half of Americans are now aware of the ongoing deregulation of the electricity market, up from 38% a year ago. Significantly 53% say they expect deregulation to lead to higher rather than lower electricity prices, compared with 40% who think prices will drop. A year ago, 43% expected higher and 43% expected lower prices; and in 1998, 38% thought they would go up and 46% thought they would go down. This time, 54% are sceptical there will be any benefit from deregulation, while 31% expect service from their electricity provider to worsen, compared with 26% a year before.
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