Does the U.S. Need a Federal Reserve for Energy?


Is the Federal Reserve a good model for oversight of energy policy? John Hofmeister, founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, certainly thinks so. He told an audience at the Berkeley Energy Symposium Monday afternoon that the current political system governing energy policy in the U.S. is dysfunctional and should be replaced with a Federal Reserve-type independent board.

While energy policy currently moves on “political time” — the several years it takes officials to get elected — it needs to move on “energy time,” or the decades it takes to plan and build energy assets like fossil fuel generation plants and nuclear facilities, Hofmeister said. An independent Fed-type board would have a more long-term view of energy policy because its board members would be made up of energy experts with terms that outlast those of elected officials, explained Hofmeister. Partisan politics is crippling energy policy and we need to create such a board to move “beyond politics,” he said.

The result of such a system, Hofmeister claimed, would be a stabilizing of energy markets — for example, the board could help with the dramatic price spikes and drops of gas prices. Such a board could also help energy regulation move away from short-term policies, like the current tax credits that give funds for clean power projects, but that are routinely extended by only a couple years at a time.

While many at the conference applauded Hofmeister’s suggestion, ultimately he didn’t give very many details of what such a board would actually do or what steps it would take to reform energy policy. And that was despite repeated questioning and prodding from the audience. In particular Severin Borenstein, the director of the University of California Energy Institute, pointed out in a Q&A session with Hofmeister that there could be real problems with an energy board that wanted to manage U.S. energy prices without regard to those of the rest of the world.



Check out the fights in the West between just about any state and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). States out here are extremely protective of their right to do pretty much as they please when it comes to anything energy related. That’s why our transmission infrastructure is such a mess.

There is no way in hell that a federal commission to oversee energy policy would ever be established and if it were, western energy interests would mire it in lawsuits and legal challenges from the get go.

This is a terrible idea.


Ha! You’re kidding me, right?

A Federal Reserve-like entity would absolutely destroy any chance this country has at getting its energy act together – just look at how the Federal Reserve we have has destroyed the value of the US dollar. Just as the dollar has lost 97% of its value since the inception of the Fed, a Fed-like institution in charge of energy in America would obliterate green energy programs, drive oil prices even higher, and probably eventually figure out a way to force all of us to run on a hamster wheel for three hours a day to generate enough energy just to run Washington.

No. NO.

p.s. the Fed is not independent. And any version of it in any other industry, be it energy or employment or education is a sure-fire way to destroy whatever that entity is meant to protect.

If it is at all modeled after the Fed, the board members would be made of oil magnates and T. Boone Pickens would be elected Chairman. Absolutely not.


Imagine if ‘Helicopter Ben’ Bernanke was in charge of the country’s energy policy! We’d be drilling in ANWR; & off southern Florida; & off Malibu, CA; & blasting oil shale in the Rockies. We’d have that nat gas pipeline coming in from Alaska-land so Picken’s plan for liquified natural gas would come into effect.

Heck, US gasoline prices would prbly be 25-cents/gallon.

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