Views on Selected DOE Conservation and Renewable Energy Programs and Their Program Mandates

EMD-82-92: Published: Jun 22, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 1982.

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GAO was asked to review the extent to which the current administration, through the Department of Energy (DOE), has met the program mandates for its conservation and renewable energy programs.

The funding provided for DOE conservation programs has grown and supports a wide range of activities. Some Federal conservation programs have contributed to reducing national energy use, and others have shown the potential to do so. However, many of these programs could be made more effective. DOE determined that appliance efficiency standards do not significantly save energy and are not economically justified. The Federal Energy Management Program, which is responsible for managing the Government's energy use, lacks strength, visibility, staff, and management support. It has been proposed that this program receive no funding for fiscal year 1983 and, consequently, opportunities to reduce the Government's $12 billion annual energy bill are likely to be missed. The Residential Conservation Service, designed to help residential consumers save energy, is not operating in 19 States. The Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps low-income people reduce their energy consumption, has been hampered by poor workmanship, inadequate energy savings data, and inadequate financial management and program monitoring. Since the Administration believes that the marketplace will adequately encourage energy conservation, it proposes to eliminate or sharply curtail nearly all Federal energy conservation programs. GAO believes that, while decontrolling energy prices has increased the incentive for private sector efforts to conserve energy, abrupt changes in or discontinuance of Federal programs may preclude the timely realization of some conservation opportunities.

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