Delays and Uncertain Energy Savings in Program To Promote State Energy Conservation

Gao ID: EMD-80-97 September 2, 1980

The Energy Conservation and Production Act of 1976 authorized four programs to encourage and facilitate the implementation of energy conservation and renewable-resource measures in residences, nonresidential buildings, and industrial plants. The act specifically requires GAO to review the four program aspects; program effectiveness, energy savings, an accounting by state of the State Energy Conservation Program (SECP), and compliance monitoring, and to report its findings to Congress annually for fiscal years 1977, 1978, and 1979. In the second annual report covering activities through 1978, SECP implementation in four Department of Energy (DOE) regional offices and eight states were reviewed.

The goal of SECP is to reduce the energy consumption of each state by about 5 percent by 1980. However, the program has been hampered by long delays in enacting required State legislation, slippages in milestone dates, and reductions in scope in many state program measures. Although reported energy savings for 1978 were 13 percent of the goal, GAO did not believe that the goal would be attained by 1980. It believed that the reported savings were overstated and not a valid measure of the actual savings. Deficiencies were identified in the financial and program reporting systems used in the SECP which must be corrected before the states and DOE can effectively monitor and manage the program. To adequately administer, control, and measure the success of the SECP, DOE needs to monitor and compare program results with program expenditures. However, states were not asked to submit financial data in a format which would allow for comparing program results with expenditures. Progress was difficult to assess because the content and format used by the states in their progress reports varied. Monitoring activities in the regional offices visited were hindered by insufficient staff.


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