Back Forty

EPRI Journal looks back 40 years at the electricity sector and research

Energy in Washington in 1977

In the January 1978 issue of EPRI Journal , an “Energy in Washington” round-up for 1977 discussed the consolidation of various federal energy initiatives into a new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), with a first-year budget of $10.4 billion and a staff of nearly 20,000. (DOE’s 2017 budget was $32.5 billion.) Introduced in April 1977, the Carter Administration’s National Energy Plan aimed to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, emphasized energy conservation as the “cleanest and cheapest source of new energy supply,” and directed more R&D on end-use technologies such as time-of-day metering and use of waste heat.

An issue receiving increased attention in 1977 was “the possible effect of carbon dioxide on the earth’s atmosphere.” A National Academy of Sciences report expressed concern that “increasing levels of CO2 from fossil-fuel-burning power plants and other sources might cause permanent global climatic change.” According to the Journal article, “If further study indicates that this climatic change is a likely possibility, it could have a dramatic long-term effect on the future use of coal and other fossil fuels for energy production and might indicate increasing use of nuclear power or other alternative sources.”