Energy Conservation:

DOE's Efforts to Promote Energy Conservation and Efficiency

RCED-92-103: Published: Apr 16, 1992. Publicly Released: Jun 8, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Energy's (DOE) programs to promote electricity and overall energy conservation and efficiency, focusing on: (1) the DOE Integrated Resource Planning Program; (2) how National Energy Strategy (NES) policy options promote conservation and efficiency and increase energy supplies; (3) how extensively DOE evaluates the results of its conservation and efficiency programs and considers evaluation results in its planning and budgeting decisions for those programs; and (4) the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) role in promoting electricity conservation and efficiency.

GAO found that: (1) DOE efforts to promote conservation and efficiency encompass funding long-term research and development of efficient technologies, administering energy conservation grant programs and disseminating various technical outreach activities, and promoting efficiency-oriented regulatory and resource planning approaches; (2) in fiscal year (FY) 1992, DOE budgeted about $122 million for research and development of efficient equipment, technologies, and processes, compared to $108 million in FY 1991; (3) NES includes 17 conservation and efficiency policy options and 31 supply-oriented policy options, but does not assign priorities to either conservation and efficiency options or supply-side options; (4) DOE has not systematically evaluated the effectiveness of conservation and efficiency programs in the past, and has historically allocated its funds to conservation and efficiency programs on the basis of existing, or short-term, geopolitical, economic, and other policy considerations; (5) DOE has recently initiated efforts to consider program evaluation results and plans to have a panel of scientific and technical experts evaluate its conservation and efficiency research and then consider the evaluation results when budget decisions are made at specific points in the programs' life cycles; and (6) although FERC has met with state regulators to explore regional planning or other approaches to balance electricity supply and demand at the lowest cost, it has not determined what steps, if any, it should take to encourage electric utilities' use of integrated resource planning.