I took two tidbits away from this interesting Clint Wilder piece on framing clean energy (via Sustainablog). Here’s the first:

In opinion research conducted last year in Rhode Island, the Clean Energy States Alliance and marketing consultancy SmartPower found that the label of “clean” energy had a much more positive public reception than “green” (too political), “renewable” (too niche), or “alternative” (too much of an implication that its users must adopt a new lifestyle).

These kinds of things are small but important to know for everybody who writes or talks about environmental issues. Little bits of repetitive framing add up. For my part, I’m going to make a habit of using “clean energy” instead of the alternatives.

Here’s the second:

But even when viewing clean energy as positive for the environment, the public was skeptical of its ability to replace fossil fuels.

…SmartPower ran a public information campaign, including TV ads narrated by actor Peter Gallagher spotlighting renewable-powered houses, hospitals, and factories with the tagline, “Clean energy: It’s real. It’s here. And it’s working.” The result? A thousand new customers switched to the local utility’s green power option in 100 days, and the number of people who agreed that clean energy is as reliable as fossil fuels jumped from 40% to 51% in the same period.

That’s a pretty extraordinary shift in opinion in response to one ad campaign.

I draw the same lesson from this that I drew from the news that 75% of people consider themselves “green shoppers” — there’s broad interest in green issues out there. Mainstream America is sniffing around at organic food and clean energy. Folks don’t know if the stuff is ready for prime-time, and they’re not yet willing to go out of their way (or pay lots more) to support it, but once they’re convinced it’s legitimate they are willing to take the leap. (See: Prius, Toyota)

There’s a huge market waiting.