A Framework for Developing a National Energy Conservation Program

EMD-79-76: Published: Jul 31, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1979.

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The report analyzes energy conservation opportunities and evaluates how the administration might develop an overall national energy conservation program. For the Government to lead the Nation effectively toward a more efficient use of energy, the administration should establish an overall national energy conservation goal which includes an acceptable level of crude oil imports and, at the same time, the eventual use of renewable energy resources. The following overriding problems reduce the effectiveness of present energy conservation policies and programs: (1) the lack of an overall energy conservation goal; (2) the lack of an agressive Federal in-house energy conservation program; and (3) the failure of the Congress and the administration to agree on emergency energy conservation and gasoline-rationing plans. The report provides a framework for evaluating energy conservation strategies ranging from voluntary initiatives to mandatory actions. It also provides for selecting specific policies and programs based on an evaluation of expected energy savings and costs and on environmental, economic, and social impacts.

The strategy alternatives to achieve energy conservation include: (1) furnace and water heater thermostat set-backs in residences; (2) retrofitting oil and gas furnaces with automatic vent dampers; (3) accelerating the improvement of the automobile fleet's average fuel economy; (4) improving the fuel economy of new automobiles beyond 1985; (5) reducing the average number of miles traveled annually by each automobile; (6) operational measures and retrofitting of existing commercial buildings; and (7) improving the use of cogeneration. Possible criteria for selecting specific policies and programs include: (1) expected energy savings and cost of implementation; (2) the time frame of expected energy savings; (3) environmental implications; (4) economic impacts; and (5) the burdens on selected consumers or regions. The development of an energy conservation ethic deserves special attention and it is probably the most important challenge facing the Federal Government in the energy conservation area. The Federal Government needs to clearly and convincingly describe the Nation's energy problem to the public, and promote energy conservation as providing positive cost benefits in an environment of rising energy prices.

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