The final “other ‘option’ scenario” column in the prospective benefits matrix (see Figure 2 in the body of this letter report) covers this possibility. It can be used to describe the scenario that justifies a program. This column need not be filled in if the program is intended to address one of the standard scenarios. If it is employed, the characteristics of the scenario should be described in full in a matrix appendix.

Program Benefits

The benefit categories included in the NRC’s retrospective study19 are appropriate for this analysis as well. Briefly, the benefits as defined in the retrospective report are as follows:

  • Economic net benefits are based on changes in the total market value of goods and services that can be produced in the U.S. economy under normal conditions…. The total market value can be increased as a result of technologies because a technology may reduce the cost of producing a given output or allow additional valuable outputs to be produced by the economy. This estimation must be computed on the basis of comparison with the next-best alternative, not some standard or average value.

  • Environmental net benefits are based on changes in the quality of the environment that will (or may) occur as a result of the technology. These changes are possible because the technology may allow regulations to change, or it may improve the environment under the existing regulations.

  • Security net benefits are based on changes in the probability or severity of abnormal, energy-related events that would adversely impact the overall economy or the environment.


National Research Council. 2001. Energy Research at DOE: Was It Worth It? Washington D.C.: National Academy Press, p. 87.

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