, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 165-180

Balancing alternatives and avoiding false dichotomies to make informed U.S. electricity policy

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Abstract

Recent events highlight the importance of electric energy policy and how to meet growing electricity demand. Price spikes, global climate change and other environmental concerns, national security threats, an aging infrastructure, and a restructured industry with mixed results are challenges that policy makers and the industry must address. Given the capital-intensive nature of the industry, investment decisions will determine in large part how successfully these challenges are met. One paper that favors energy efficiency, renewable energy, and small-scale distributed generation is examined in detail to test the proposition that fossil fuel and nuclear power should be part of the mix of new investments. To determine the future electricity resource mix requires having a complete and informed picture of the relative costs and benefits of various technologies. The levels of energy efficiency, renewable resources, and distributed generation can and should be increased, but coal and nuclear generation investments are also likely to be needed.