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July 25, 2010

How Will States Meet the Energy Challenges of the Future?

A new guide for state policymakers highlights various resource, technology and policy solutions.

The cost of cooling and heating a home, rising fuel prices and the availability of finding alternative energy sources are all issues capturing headlines in newspapers and at state capitols across the country.

Recognizing this increased interest in energy policy among state legislatures, the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Executive Committee formed the Task Force on Energy Supply in 2009.

After a year of studying resources, technology and policy solutions from across the country, the Energy Task Force has released a new publication, “Meeting the Energy Challenges of the Future: A Guide for Policymakers” at NCSL’s 36th annual Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky. It contains principles that state legislators could employ when trying to determine how they will keep the lights on in the future.

“This task force recognizes the influence state legislators can have in shaping energy policies,” said Representative Tom Holbrook of Illinois. “Lawmakers across the country can use this report to help engage their utilities and regulators in meaningful dialogue about how to meet the future energy needs of each state and region.”

Meeting the Energy Challenges of the Future: A Guide for Policymakers” provides analysis of various fuel sources, energy efficiency, development and issues facing the current energy delivery infrastructure, including transmission. Highlights include:

  • A look at what new energy supplies will be needed in the next 20 years and the various options available to meet new demand for electricity.
  • A review of how the nation’s electricity production and supply systems function and the role of state, local, utility and federal policy in regulation.
  • An exploration of various energy resource impacts on the environment and the influence of climate change policies on planning for the future.
  • A summary of policy options available to state legislators to address a broad array of energy issues, including transmission, cleaner coal technologies, renewable energy, natural gas, energy efficiency and nuclear energy.

One important challenge we found is that there is no “one-size fits all” approach that will work for every state. Given the current financial constraints, each state or region will have to make decisions that make economic sense for their constituents,” said Representative Al Carlson of North Dakota.

Meeting future energy needs, as demonstrated in this report, lies not just in one source or technology, but in the combination of many technologies and resources, which are likely to include energy efficiency, natural gas, cleaner coal technologies, nuclear energy, smart grid technologies and renewable energy. Since the difference in resources and costs can vary dramatically among states, the choice of technologies and policies may also vary. The costs, benefits and challenges of all the different resources and technologies are discussed in detail within the NCSL Energy Supply Task Force report.

The chairs of the NCSL energy supply task force will be available for interviews at the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) at 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. in the NCSL press conference room, 114 of the convention center.

Registered members of the media are welcome to attend. Local media who are interesting must register at the NCSL press office, room 113 of the convention center. Reporters who would like to schedule an interview with one of the task force chairs may call the NCSL press room at 502-815-6870 to set up a time.


NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.