Energy Policy:

DOE's Policy, Programs, and Issues Related to Electricity Conservation

RCED-97-107R: Published: Apr 9, 1997. Publicly Released: Apr 9, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Energy's (DOE) energy policy and programs as they relate to electricity conservation.

GAO noted that: (1) as a component of the administration's overall sustainable energy strategy, DOE integrates electricity efficiency into its energy-efficiency and renewable energy policy and programs; (2) however, neither the administration nor DOE has an explicit electricity conservation policy; (3) for fiscal year (FY) 1998, the administration requested a budget for DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of about $1.02 billion, which represents a 27-percent increase over the Office's appropriation for FY 1997; (4) in the recent past, the Congress passed legislation to facilitate greater competition among wholesale suppliers of electricity; (5) currently, the Congress is considering, and several states have passed, legislation that would restructure the electric utility industry to facilitate greater competition among retail suppliers; (6) restructuring may result in lower electricity prices, on average; thus, some consumers may be less willing to invest in energy efficiency technologies; (7) if electricity prices are lowered and consumption and generation subsequently increase, restructuring could possibly lead to greater power plant emissions and affect environmental quality; and (8) at this time, it is uncertain whether DOE's current energy-efficiency and renewable-energy programs are the most cost-effective means for addressing environmental damages.

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