Effective Energy Policy: Learning Lessons from Forty Years of Trying

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Date(s) - 2/2/201212:00 am


On February 2, the George C. Marshall Institutehosted a panel discussion concerning federal energy policy. Panelists considered what lessons are to be learned from 40 years of federal energy policy and discussed the implications of those lessons for the future direction of energy R&D, subsidies, loan guarantees, and tax policy.

The U.S. spends billions annually to support the energy industry using an array of tools and approaches. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports “The value of direct federal financial interventions and subsidies in energy markets doubled between 2007 and 2010, growing from $17.9 billion to $37.2 billion. In broad categories, the largest increase was for conservation and end-use subsidies, followed to a lesser degree by increases in electricity-related subsidies and subsidies for fuels used outside the electricity sector.”

But, after 40 years of effort and billions of R&D dollars spent, federal support for alternative energy (save for nuclear power) has yet to appreciably change the mix of energy used by the U.S. Why? Are the policies wrong? Is the technology still not ready? If so, why not?  What set of energy policies makes sense? Is the best option to continue to do what we already do?

Institute CEO William O’Keefe moderated the discussion. 

Panelists included:

  • Karen Harbert, President and CEO, Institute for 21st Century Energy 
  • Mark Mills, Founder and CEO, Digital Power Group, and author of The Bottomless Well
  • Lou Pugliaresi, President, Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc. (EPRINC) 

On November 16, the Institute hosted a discussion on a related topic.  Video and information on that event is available here.

Effective Energy Policy: Learning Lessons
from Forty Years of Trying

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