• The set of EIA models reviewed by the committee at the beginning of this study constitutes a reasonable starting point for developing a National Energy Modeling System. However, considerable development will be needed to attain a modeling system satisfying the requirements outlined in this report.

The committee believes that modeling can play a valuable part in energy policy analysis. In its first advisory report issued January 30, 1991, the committee observed that DOE has no comprehensive model or set of models that can respond adequately to the needs of the NES but “the approach taken by DOE in using available models, and off-line supplemental analysis as necessary, was a rational response to the department's need for expedient support of the NES process” (NRC, 1991a; reprinted as Appendix B to this report; also see Appendix E). The committee noted, however, that the set of models used by DOE in the NES had “significant limitations relative to the analytical results reported by DOE,” and that one needs “to appreciate the limited power of the existing set of models used for evaluating policy choices.”

Evaluation of the NES effort thus indicated that the NEMS must significantly exceed the capabilities of existing DOE models. The committee recommends a course of action that builds on existing capabilities.

  • The NEMS Program, once established, should complement and interact with a variety of other public and private groups that contribute to policy analysis.

The development and use of models is only one aspect of policy analysis. Policy analysis also includes the identification of policy issues and initiatives of importance, development of assumptions, validation of models and data, interpretation of model results, and attention to social values. Additionally, the capabilities of the NEMS will complement many credible public and private models and analysts.

  • Successful development of the NEMS will require the Secretary of Energy and EIA Administrator to establish and foster an organizational environment that is outward-looking and ensures greater intellectual and institutional commitment to its development and maintenance.

After more than a decade of budget stringency and less than full support by the DOE at large, DOE/EIA “culture” has clearly not moved forward. For the NEMS to fulfill its potential as a national energy modeling and data resource system, DOE and EIA must create a supporting institutional environment that is sufficiently rich, broad, and interactive, that relates well to the DOE's policy and program offices and to appropriate federal, state, regional, and nongovernment groups.

The committee's principal recommendations follow here; additional recommendations are offered throughout the report. The committee's goal is to lay the foundations for

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