UT Baker Center Collaborates with Deloitte on Study of Public Perspectives Shaping U.S. Energy Future

KNOXVILLE — Deloitte and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have released a collaborative new study titled “Power from Perspective: Potential Future United States Energy Portfolios.”

The extensive study, unveiled today at a press conference and discussion forum at the Baker Center, identifies and explores seven distinct public perspectives shaping our nation’s energy future. The perspectives include:

America-Firsters (focused on energy independence)
Bottom-Liners (composed of industrialists who prefer a secure and low-cost national energy portfolio, regardless of its greenhouse gas emissions or energy-import profile)
Entrepreneurs (focused on business opportunities in energy and energy efficiency)
Environmentalists (focused on using clean energy, protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions)
Individualists (focused on personal convenience and maintaining a high quality of life)
Politicians (focused on accommodating as many divergent interests as possible)
Technophiles (focused on using technology to achieve the nation’s energy goals)

The study creates detailed portfolios for each of these seven perspectives by defining each one’s values (cost sensitivity, national security, environmentalism, etc.), as well as each one’s policy levers (drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, support for government tax credits, etc.). The portfolios also take into account each perspective’s preference for differing energy sources, such as coal, oil and gas, solar and wind.

With the portfolios clearly defined, the study uses a series of detailed charts, graphs and analyses to determine how each perspective performs through the year 2030, when judged against the following criteria:

Energy Independence (Did the perspective reduce foreign energy imports?)
Energy Security (Did the perspective increase the sourcing of energy from close allies and reliable domestic supplies?)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Did the perspective reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions?)
Economic Impacts (What were the perspective’s financial ramifications?)
Feasibility (What was the perspective’s level of technical achievability?)
Socio-Political (How did the perspective impact the environment, international relations and demographics?)

The study then goes on to look at each perspective’s sensitivity to four major variables:
– Global Economic Downturn
– Significant Terrorist Attack on Energy Sources
– Significant Acceleration in Climate Change
– Emergence of a New or Disruptive Energy Technology

Finally, the study compares and contrasts the different perspective portfolios, providing a series of sometimes surprising conclusions. For example, the study shows that the U.S. can achieve energy independence by following any one of several different perspectives — but each perspective brings with it radically different ramifications on cost, individual choice and government involvement.

The study also offers the surprising conclusion that when a perspective strongly focuses on one goal, it often achieves a second, inadvertent, goal. For example, people who fall under the Environmentalist perspective tend to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions above all else, without realizing that their perspective also leads to energy independence in the long run.

“Our research shows that public perceptions and attitudes play a complex role in our energy future,” said Bruce Tonn, a professor in UT’s Department of Political Science, and the project lead behind the study. “We believe our research sheds valuable light on the potential directions we can take our nation’s energy policy, without advocating any one particular stance, source of energy or political platform.”

K.C. Healy, director in the Energy & Resources practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, echoed this sentiment: “The energy issues facing the United States often feel large, contentious, intractable and, to a certain degree, beyond our control. But, as our study reveals, there are many viable approaches to meeting future energy challenges. The key is a studied analysis of how the various perspectives play out over time — both individually and when judged against one another.”

Healy went on to point out that Deloitte and the Baker Center are sharing the study with a range of legislators, business leaders, academics and elected officials. “The research in our study will help these constituencies as they make the real-world decisions that will shape our futures,” he said.

The Baker Center is a nonpartisan center that develops educational programs and promotes civic engagement and research to further the public’s understanding and knowledge of our system of governance, critical public policy issues and the importance of public service. The center embodies a genuine respect for differing points of view, and it serves as a forum for discussion, debate, education and research.

For more information about the Baker Center, see http://bakercenter.utk.edu/main/.

Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Services LP are separate subsidiaries of Deloitte LLP. Please see http://www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.

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To download a copy of the paper, visit http://bakercenter.utk.edu/main/event.php?key=142 or http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/whitepaper/0,1017,cid%253D222537,00.html.
To obtain a copy of the paper by mail or to arrange an interview with the paper’s research team, contact Jon Rucket at jrucket@deloitte.com or call (713) 982-4217.
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Contacts:

Jon Rucket, Deloitte, (713) 982-4217, jrucket@deloitte.com
Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu