South Association Forum FSA - September 2011
5 - 9 September 2011, Gdańsk, Poland

Energy policy

Energy policy is the manner in which a given entity (often governmental) has decided to address issues of energy development including energy production, distribution and consumption. The attributes of energy policy may include legislation, international treaties, incentives to investment, guidelines for energy conservation, taxation and other public policy techniques. Energy is a core component of modern economies. A functioning economy requires not only labor and capital but also energy, for manufacturing processes, transportation, communication, agriculture, and more.
Although research is ongoing, the "human dimensions" of energy use are of increasing interest to business, utilities, and policymakers. Using the social sciences to gain insights into energy consumer behavior can empower policymakers to make better decisions about broad-based climate and energy options. This could facilitate more efficient energy use, renewable energy commercialization, and carbon emission reductions. Access to energy is also critical for basic social needs, such as lighting, heating, cooking, and health care. As a result, the price of energy has a direct effect on jobs, economic productivity and business competitiveness, and the cost of goods and services.
Frequently the dominant issue of energy policy is the risk of supply-demand mismatch (see: energy crisis). Current energy policies also address environmental issues (see: climate change), particularly challenging because of the need to reconcile global objectives and international rules with domestic needs and laws. Some governments state explicit energy policy, but, declared or not, each government practices some type of energy policy. Economic and energy modelling can be used by governmental or inter-governmental bodies as an advisory and analysis tool (see: economic model, POLES).
Even within a state it is proper to talk about energy policies in plural. Influential entities, such as municipal or regional governments and energy industries, will each exercise policy. Policy measures available to these entities are lesser in sovereignty, but may be equally important to national measures. In fact, there are certain activities vital to energy policy which realistically cannot be administered at the national level, such as monitoring energy conservation practices in the process of building construction, which is normally controlled by state-regional and municipal building codes (although can appear basic federal legislation).
Currently, the major issues in U.S. energy policy revolve around the rapidly growing production of domestic and other North American energy resources. The U.S. drive toward energy independence and less reliance on oil and coal is fraught with partisan conflict because these issues revolve around how best to balance both competing values, such as environmental protection and economic growth, and the demands of rival organized interests, such as those of the fossil fuel industry and of the newer renewable energy businesses.

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