California State University, Fullerton

News Categories

Economist Authors Wall Street Journal Item

Aug. 21, 2012

bald headed man in a lavender shirt

Robert J. Michaels

Download Photo

An opinion piece regarding the “flaw in energy efficiency” is creating a stir on the Wall Street Journal website.

The item, written by Robert J. Michaels, professor of economics, and posted Aug. 20, notes that “if the costs of new technologies (through mandated increases in energy efficiency) are within reason, they promise consumers lower energy bills and producers more profit while mitigating the environmental costs of energy development and consumption.” The flaw, however, is that “basic economics says that the best way to promote some activity is to reduce its price. That often means efficiency requirements end up having the opposite effect than the one intended,” Michaels wrote.

The result, where actual savings from energy efficiency is less than promoted because consumers use more of the energy or increase the number of products that use energy as a result of the efficiency, is a “rebound.”

Michaels, a Cal State Fullerton faculty member since 1968, is a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, which recently released his study, “The Rebound Dilemma.” 

To read more, go to “The Hidden Flaw of ‘Energy Efficiency’’ on the web.

Tags:  Academics & Research