Lemme get the obvious out of the way first: -Bush's energy policy sucks because he is influenced too much by business. -Democrats' energy policies suck because they are influenced too much by radcal "environmentalism". Now, the thing I want to discuss here isn't the broad-based, high publicity energy policies, but the smaller initiatives that fly under the radar but can potentially have an enormous effect on our energy situation. There are a lot of good things that can be done with just a little nudge from the government and I'm in favor of that for the simple reason that apathy combined with ignorance keeps people from trying new things. People often balk at a 2 year payback on an equipment upgrade, for example. In my job (HVAC engineering), we recently ran into two such initiatives (and my dad profits from a 3rd) and they have some serious flaws, but still have the potential to be a good thing. NYSERDA is a government run corporation that is tasked with implimenting various energy policy initiatives for New York. One we recently ran into is funding energy efficiency studies for large buildings in New York city via retrocommissioning. You would not believe how much energy is wasted by heaing and air conditioning systems that are improperly set up and by testing and balancing a system and checking its overall operational parameters (does it let in too much fresh air, for example), there is enormous potential for savings. The economics of successful projects are outstanding for the building owner. Sounds great, but here's the thing: this particular program was set up as a biproduct of utility rate controls. Since all rates must be approved by the government, the government gets to make whatever rediculous demands it wants on the energy companies in exchange for approval for rate increases. In this case, the government is telling energy companies that they must help their customers save energy. Yeah, that's right: this program is not funded by the government, but by the energy company (so then it gets worked into the rate increase anyway). It is akin to Coke giving you money to buy less coke while raising the price of a coke to cover what it paid you and the lost profit. Absurd. What's more, the studies are competitively bid so NYSERDA wants a proposal saying how much savings will be realized before it funds the study to find out how much savings will be realized. :uhh: If government wants businesses to run more energy efficient, it needs to target the building owners directly, with a carrot/stick approach: reward efficiency, penalize inefficiency. This can be done the same way as other sin taxes and incentive programs. One such program.... New Jersey is on the forefront of energy efficiency policy. I'm not sure who runs this one, but my dad gets a fair amount of business filling out forms for a convenince store, getting them rebates from the state on high-efficiency HVAC for their stores. Pretty good, but it also has a slight flaw: the money for that comes from a general state-wide tax on energy, so essentially consumers are paying for the capital improvements of this convenience store chain. Energy initiatives targeted at business should be paid for by business and energy initiatives targeted at consumers should be paid for by consumers. That will maximize the carrot/stick effect. The EPA runs the Energy Star program. You probably have a sticker on your monitor. Recently, we ran into a client with an Energy Star rated house that wasn't staying cool. The fact that it wasn't cool is a side issue for later, but the thing that really tripped me up is the fact that while the Energy Star rating is very conscientious about things like insulation and low flow toilets, it utterly ignores energy efficiency in equipment. Significant (20%? 40%?) savings can be achieved through better insulation and high quality windows, but you can also buy an air conditioner that puts out 55% more cooling per watt than the standard efficiency unit (until this past January, that would have been 100% - the minimum efficiency did just go up by 30%). And Energy Star only requires the minimum. How absurd is that? Worse, the increase in equipment cost vs decrease in operating cost of such an upgrade thing is good enough that you make up the difference in about 2 years. Here we are arguing over hybrid cars when a similar amount of extra up-front money will yield vastly more energy cost savings (and perform the same as any other a/c unit, unlike hybrid cars). If the EPA would hold a carrot out for a new home buyer (offer to defray some of the cost) or whack him with a stick (make the guy who doesn't pay the guy who does), most would make that kind of investment. While the above are good ideas executed poorly, there are also a lot of bad ideas being pushed through. Solar power is a biggie that is out there because the "environmentalists" love it. But it is a mediocre idea from an environmental point of view and [because] just plain awful economically. An architect we work looked into putting solar panels on the roof of his business and found that even with a government incentive paying a substantial fraction of the up-front cost, the payback was 20 years. Comments? War stories? Other ideas?