Consumers feel their home energy costs would have to more than double before they had to use less or reduce other expenses to compensate, according to a new index created by the University of Michigan's Energy Institute and released today. The university's energy affordability indices are modeled on U-M's Survey of Consumers, and like their progenitor, the surveys ask questions of consumers about how much their own bills for things like gasoline, electricity, and home heating would have to rise before they became unaffordable. The energy surveys, which canvassed 3,400 Americans over two years, found that throughout the survey period, even consumers in the lower third of the income scale would have to see their home energy costs double before costs broke the bank. The survey also looked at gasoline prices and found that consumers would not find it unaffordable to fill their tanks unless pump prices more than doubled to $5.50 a gallon.
“It would be better if the Renewable Fuel Standard were simply repealed,” argues John DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute and a former senior fellow at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Panel debate over emissions doesn't follow partisan lines
It was an unusual scenario, to say the least.
Republican lawmakers yesterday needled witnesses on the nuances and intricacies of carbon accounting for biofuels -- models created to showcase how well the fuels performed as a tool for averting climate change.
Energy Institute Research Professor John DeCicco testified before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, at a hearing titled: "Renewable Fuel Standard: A Ten Year Review of Costs and Benefits." Read the testimony here, or watch the full hearing:
This summer, in most parts of the country, average pump prices have been nearly a dollar per gallon lower than the previous three years. But the price of oil can be quite volatile, and so what do consumers say they'd do if gasoline became unaffordable?
Personal vehicles are a staple form of transportation for most U.S. consumers, whether for traveling to work or escaping to distant places. Moreover, cars have a long-standing symbolic link with Americans’ sense of independence. Not surprisingly, pressures to reduce car use often evoke psychological resistance.
Since its inception in October 2013, the University of Michigan Energy Survey has asked U.S. consumers, in an open-ended format, about what they would do differently to get around if gasoline prices reached a level that they thought would be personally unaffordable. Understanding consumers’ responses can shed light on this important energy-related aspect of decision making.
A new piece on Energy Institute Research Professor John DeCicco's blog, Cars and Climate, explores the flow of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide during the life cycle of biofuels. It is excerpted below.
"After all that's been written about the pros and cons of biofuels over the years, it's fair to ask whether there's anything left to say. It turns out that there is, and a new insight comes from evaluating what actually happens on the earth, that is, on the land where the plants used to make biofuels are grown.