Government's Role in Energy Efficiency

The Christian Science Monitor, July 21, 1992 | Go to article overview

Government's Role in Energy Efficiency


In the Opinion page article "Government-Imposed Energy Efficiency - a Bad Idea," June 30, the author ignored a wealth of data in two assertions he made. First, he asserts that corporations and individuals will make profitable investments in energy efficiency without government mandate. According to the author, consumers should make these investments, but many have not.

There are many reasons why consumers do not always make profitable investments in energy efficiency. Often the volume of information and the rapid pace of technological change make it difficult for consumers to use all available information on energy-efficient technologies. The lack of information on energy costs make energy efficiency less significant than other factors which influence consumers, such as purchase price, styling, performance, comfort, and simplicity.

The author's second questionable assertion is that efficiency improvements in the United States economy from 1970 to 1990 had little to do with government policy.

This ignores several pieces of federal energy legislation, including: the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which mandated corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards for motor vehicles, and efficiency testing and labeling requirements for home appliances; the Energy Conservation and Production Act of 1976, which set new building energy efficiency standards; and the National Energy Conservation Policy Act of 1978 and the Synthetic Fuels Act of 1980, which required utilities to promote residential energy conservation. The states have also implemented energy policies.

Despite the author's view to the contrary, there is a significant role for public policy to promote economically justified investment in energy efficiency. …

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