Skip to main content

60 Years of Energy Incentives – An Analysis of Federal Expenditures for Energy Development from 1950-2010

In 2008, NEI published a study based on an analysis by the Management Information Systems, Inc. that detailed the amount of subsidies that go to each energy source. The study has just been updated and now shows 60 years of energy incentives. Here’s the intro:

With concern about the price and availability of energy increasing, public interest in the role of federal incentives in shaping today’s energy marketplace and future energy options has risen sharply. That interest has met with frustration in some quarters and half-truths in others because of the difficulty in developing a complete picture of the incentives that influence today’s energy options.

The difficulty arises from the many forms of incentives, the variety of ways that they are funded, managed and monitored, and changes in the agencies responsible for administering them. It is no simple matter to identify incentives and track them through year-to-year changes in legislation and budgets over the 50-plus years that federal incentives have been a significant part of the modern energy marketplace.

The findings indicate that the largest beneficiaries of federal energy incentives have been oil and gas, receiving more than half of all incentives provided since 1950. The federal government’s primary support for nuclear energy development has been in the form of research and development (R&D) programs, one of the more visible types of incentives identified. In the past 10 years, federal spending on R&D for coal and renewables has exceeded expenditures for nuclear energy R&D.

Below are two key charts showing the latest numbers on pages 10 and 12:



And a little bit more on page 17:

The common perception that federal energy incentives have favored nuclear energy at the expense of renewables, such as wind and solar, is not supported by the findings of this study. The largest beneficiaries of federal energy incentives have been oil and gas, receiving more than half of all incentives provided since 1950.

The federal government’s primary incentive to nuclear energy has been in the form of R&D programs, one of the more visible types of incentives identified. Since the end of funding for the breeder reactor program in 1988, federal spending on nuclear energy research has been less than spending on coal research and since 1994 has also been less than spending on renewable energy research.

The analysis takes you back into some good history of U.S. energy policy since 1950. There is a telling story on renewables on page 52 and some interesting incentive figures for each nuclear technology (light-water reactors, heavy-water reactors, gas cooled, sodium cooled and others) on page 35. Make sure to take a gander at the full report.


Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…