Former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger told a gathering of utility and renewable energy executives that he supports conservation efforts to reduce the risk of another major oil crisis, but that the government's role in renewables should be limited.
"I think you're not going to get more energy efficiency simply by spending more money," Weinberger said at the Seventh Annual Energy Efficiency Forum sponsored by the U.S. Energy Association and Johnson Controls in Washington, DC.
Weinberger, chairman of Forbes, Inc., worked on energy-efficiency issues during the Reagan Administration, from January 1981 to November 1987. He increased energy awareness at the Department of Defense and supported legislation to streamline petroleum acquisition, saving energy and tax dollars.
Weinberger sees government's role as that of educator on ways to conserve and be efficient. Seminars and summits should be one objective, he said. "I think the government's encouragement of educational programs can be done with very little money but with a lot of leadership qualities . . . and a
number of inducements for corporate achievements, individual achievements. Things of that kind can be basically very beneficial."
One panelist at the conference, Frederick W. Buckman, PacifiCorp CEO, suggested a much more controversial solution to promoting conservation: taxes.
"Another reason we're here is the nasty word called tax," Buckman said. "If there is social policy which demands a level of conservation above what is economic, there are ways to do it. But things that are a great social benefit ought to be paid for by society."