FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is The University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll valuable?
Energy touches all aspects of life and is critical to our economy and our future. While there are a number of sponsored surveys on energy issues available in the public domain, there was no consistent impartial measure of public opinion to serve as an objective voice. The University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll provides an ongoing, impartial and authoritative look at consumers’ perspectives on key energy issues and how those issues shape their decisions and their lifestyle. The long-term vision is for poll results to be used to inform decision-making by public policy makers, academics, energy practitioners, the business community, and the public.

Why does public opinion on energy matter?
Policymakers and business leaders pay close attention to the attitudes and concerns of their constituents and consumers. In turn, public opinion ultimately drives the energy policies and priorities that come to pass regionally and nationally.

Who designed The University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll?
The University of Texas at Austin, through its Energy Management and Innovation Center of the McCombs School of Business, designed and oversees the poll. In addition, the University has reached out to academics, polling experts, non-governmental organizations, large energy users and energy producers, among others, for input and guidance on the poll.

How often is the poll conducted?
Twice a year, with results reported in October and April.

Who is surveyed?
Consumers who live in the U.S. and are 18 years of age or older are surveyed online. A minimum of 2,000 responses are collected over a seven-to-ten-day period and weighted to match the U.S. population (as set forth by the U.S. Census Bureau).

For the fourth iteration of the poll, 2,113 consumers were surveyed from March 11 to March 20, 2013.

What topics does the poll cover within the survey?
The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete online and primarily measures public attitudes and perspectives on a range of energy issues, including the following:

• Perceptions on energy challenges and proposed solutions
• Satisfaction with various groups’ leadership on energy issues
• Energy priorities and how those priorities are ranked
• Factors influencing behaviors around energy consumption
• Views of an energy “hot topic”

In the coming year, the poll also will provide an “energy index,” a single number distilled from responses to a pre-identified set of survey questions. The energy index will track movements over time in public perceptions of energy prices, availability and the environmental impact of production, as well as the associated impacts on consumers and the economy.

How does the university ensure the poll’s objectivity and impartiality?
In addition to input from academic researchers and polling experts, the university solicits guidance from a range of constituents with knowledge of and interest in energy issues, including non-governmental organizations, large energy users and energy producers, among others. This helps ensure the poll contains unbiased questions that examine issues of importance across the energy spectrum.

How is the poll funded?
Dr. Tom Gilligan, the Dean of The McCombs School of Business, decided that McCombs should fund an energy survey as part of its mission to promote energy-related research and teaching. The UT Energy Poll is funded through contributions from the Dean’s discretionary fund. These contributions come from a variety of sources, including executive education programs and corporate and individual donors, and Dean Gilligan decides where best to use these donations in support of our students and the university. Donors have no influence on the way the poll is conducted. In time, we will grow our subscriber base making the UT Energy Poll a self-sustaining initiative. For more information on funding, contact sheril.kirshenbaum@mccombs.utexas.edu.

How much can we trust opinion polls?
Every poll is different so each needs to be considered on an individual basis. The UT Energy Poll is nonpartisan, non-biased, and represents no special interest because we are a public university. It is carefully conducted to reflect American attitudes across the United States based on U.S. census data. Each wave of the poll goes through multiple rounds of review both internally at the university and externally by our international board of advisors representing academia, environmental groups, industry, and marketing and polling experts.

Who uses the survey data?
The University of Texas Energy Poll is used by students, faculty and administrators to help educate various key stakeholders about critical issues facing the energy industry. The poll results provide insights into public knowledge and opinion that are useful to business and policy leaders as they make decisions that affect our energy future.

What makes The University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll different from other research studies on energy?
The University, in researching existing polls on energy, found a number of interesting and important surveys, particularly on specific issues. However, the development team also identified a need for an ongoing, nonpartisan and impartial poll that tracks a broad range of consumer perspectives on energy issues. By surveying consumers twice a year, The University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll can provide a rich resource to those interested in public perspectives on energy and to track changes in those perspectives over time.

How do I access the data?
As we build the dataset over succeeding waves of the poll, we are developing a rich repository of data. The topline results and index are publicly available, and detailed results are available to elected officials. To help offset the costs of the survey, we offer an annual subscription package for academia and industry to receive the full dataset and customized reports. If you are interested, please contact Sheril Kirshenbaum at sheril.kirshenbaum@mccombs.utexas.edu.