Future Seminar Summaries

Energy Efficiency: The bad, the good, and the reality

Jim Sweeney, director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, professor of Management Science & Engineering, senior fellow at Precourt Center and at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and, by courtesy, at the Hoover Institution

Monday, November 30, 2015 | 04:30 PM - 05:20 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Energy efficiency -- economically efficient reductions in energy use – supports three goals fundamental to US energy policy: the health and growth of the economy, the domestic and international environment, and domestic and international security.   Although barriers still keep the United States from full implementation of energy efficient options, energy efficiency improvements since the oil crisis of 1973-74 have had more beneficial impacts on US energy security and on the environment than any of the increases in domestic production of oil, gas, coal, geothermal energy, nuclear power, solar power, wind power, plus biofuels, put together.  Progress has been based on cumulative small changes, broadly distributed throughout the economy, and thus difficult to notice. 

The cumulative, broadly distributed growth in energy efficiency resulted from many factors working together, not simply one factor -- energy prices, attitudes, energy efficiency regulations, governmental and utility-based subsidies, governmental organizations and nongovernmental organizations, nudges, managerial changes.  For some companies energy efficiency became a profit strategy.  Technology innovations and innovations of energy management and utilization have been central. These factors in many cases were mutually reinforcing.


Jim Sweeney is director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center; professor of Management Science and Engineering; senior fellow of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research; senior fellow of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; senior fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; and senior fellow of the Precourt Institute for Energy. He served as chairman of the Stanford Department of Engineering-Economic Systems and chairman of the Department of Engineering-Economic Systems and Operations Research.

His professional activities focus on economic policy and analysis, particularly in energy, natural resources, and the environment. His research includes depletable and renewable resource use, electricity market analysis, environmental economics, global climate change policy, gasoline market dynamics, energy demand, energy price dynamics, and housing market dynamics. Along with Alan Kneese, he was editor of the three volume Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, part of the North Holland Handbooks in Economics series. He is the author of The California Electricity Crisis, an analytical history of the economic and policy issues associated with California's electricity restructuring and the subsequent crisis.

At Stanford he has served as director of the Energy Modeling Forum, chairman of the Stanford Institute for Energy Studies, and director of the Center for Economic Policy Research (now the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research). He currently is on the executive committee of the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the executive committee of the Precourt Institute for Energy.

He periodically serves as a consultant or advisor to corporations, governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and law firms. He has served as expert witness in energy litigations in natural gas, oil, and electricity industries in the United States and in New Zealand.

He holds a B.S. degree from MIT in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in Engineering Economic Systems.