Energy Policy FAQ

What do you mean by “energy policy?”

[PHOTO]Energy policy meetingEnergy policy research is the study of government decisions related to types of energy development, production, distribution and consumption, as well as economic, social, planning, and environmental repercussions.

How does one do “research” in energy policy?

Our energy policy researchers are mostly economists and engineers. Economists use information from engineers to develop models of policy effects on energy markets. Engineers use information from economists to help see and respond to potential constraints on technology and adoption.

Why is energy policy so important?

Policy decisions often influence the choices industry and consumers make. These choices also affect which research is funded and, ultimately, what we end up knowing about the world and our options for technology.

Why is energy policy research part of Iowa NSF EPSCoR?

Iowa NSF EPSCoR researchers understand that the best technology is useless if it is not encouraged by government and adopted by industry. Our policy researchers strive to inform policymakers of the current state of energy science and economics.

What specific areas of energy policy is Iowa NSF EPSCoR researching?

Our researchers are interested in many topics that influence energy markets and affect policy decisions. Topics being explored right now include greenhouse gas emission regulation, national security, world trade, agricultural policy, computer-based modeling, fuel adoption, electricity markets, and power plant conversion.

How does this work relate to other energy policy research in Iowa?

Iowa NSF EPSCoR energy policy researchers work closely with industry and other entities such as the Center of Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) and the Iowa Energy Center to ensure the research is need-based and findings will have maximum impact.

Why should the federal government and state governments make policies affecting energy? Why not let the free market decide what energy sources work best?

Good policy enables the best energy sources for the good of society and the environment to be able to compete with the cheapest energy sources in the short term.

[IMAGE]RFS chart
Energy policy researchers use complex models and projections to help policy makers understand the possible affects of their decisions.

Isn’t energy policy getting involved in politics? Why are my tax dollars paying for this?

Our researchers are careful to remain informative advisors about energy science and the likely market affects of policies. Legislators make policy decisions based on a variety of factors but they need science-based information about energy.

Do energy regulations add costs to the average consumer’s energy bills?

Energy regulations may raise or lower the costs of different types of energy. In a market where energy comes from multiple sources around the world, regulations exist in a complex web of other short and long-term constraints to influence costs.

What is all the news I’ve been hearing about regulations on ethanol production?

Ethanol regulations are complex and change quickly. Most of the regulations concern air quality, land use, and the types of fuels vehicles can use.

What is all the news I’ve been hearing about regulations on coal-fired power plants?

Coal-fired power plant regulations are complex and change quickly. Greenhouse gas emission limits may add substantial costs to building new or modernizing old coal-fired power plants.