James L. Sweeney

Senior Fellow

James L. Sweeney, known for his work energy economics and energy policy, is a Hoover Institution senior fellow.

Sweeney analyzes economic and policy issues, especially those involving energy systems and/or the environment. He has particular research interests in global climate change, automotive fuel economy regulation, electricity market problems, and market structure issues.

He is a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University, where he was appointed to the faculty in 1971. He also is director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

At Stanford, Sweeney was chairman, Department of Engineering-Economic Systems & Operations Research, 1996–98; chairman, Department of Engineering-Economic Systems, 1991–96; director, Center for Economic Policy Research, 1984–86; chairman, Institute for Energy Studies, 1981–85, and director, Energy Modeling Forum, 1978–84.

He recently served on the review panel for the State of California Public Interest Energy Research Program, the National Research Council's Committee on Benefits of DOE R&D in Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy, and the National Research Council's Committee on Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards.

In 2000, Sweeney was appointed a fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology. He was elected a senior fellow of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics in 1999. He won an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Stanford Society of Black Scientists and Engineers in 1989 and the Federal Energy Administration Distinguished Service Award in 1975.

Sweeney's publications include California Electricity Crisis (Hoover Institution Press, 2002), "Trade and Industry Impacts of the Kyoto Protocol," with W. D. Montgomery, in The Business Roundtable, October 1999; "Natural Resource Economics," The Social Science Encyclopedia, 2d ed. (London: Routledge, 1996), "Energy Economics," International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Elsevier Science, 2001), and Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, with A. V. Kneese (North Holland: Volumes I and II, 1993 and Volume III, 1995).

Sweeney earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1966 and a doctoral degree in engineering-economic systems from Stanford University in 1971.

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Recent Commentary

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How the West Was Wired

by James L. Sweeneyvia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 23, 2017

California’s electrical power capacity is bottled up by an inefficient regional network. Here’s a bright idea: fix that grid. 

Analysis and Commentary

Energy And Environment In The Trump Administration

by James L. Sweeney, Alice Hillvia Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hoover Institution fellows James Sweeney and Alice Hill discuss energy policy at the 2017 Silicon Valley Energy Summit.


Increased Efficiency: Our Best Source Of Clean Energy

by James L. Sweeneyvia Policyed.org
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Increases in energy efficiency are an often-forgotten component of our shift to clean energy and reduced carbon emissions. Higher prices triggered by the 1973 oil embargo caused America to drastically change how it used energy. The ensuing gains in efficiency had more of an impact on America’s energy consumption than all of the growth in solar, wind, geothermal, natural gas and nuclear energy combined.

Energy Efficiency by James Sweeney
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Energy Efficiency: Still Low-hanging Fruit

by James L. Sweeneyvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 24, 2017

There are still plenty of ways we can use energy more efficiently. Simple changes would produce large effects. 


Integrate Western Power Grid To Reduce Emissions, Energy Costs

by James L. Sweeneyvia Sacramento Bee
Friday, March 3, 2017

California has built up an excess of electricity-generation capacity in the years following the crisis of 2000-01, the Los Angeles Times recently reported. Some have sought to justify this as insurance against more shortages and blackouts.


Cheap, Clean And Easily Accessible? An Energy Resource Any U.S. President Could Love

by James L. Sweeneyvia The Hill
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Energy efficiency, though not the most exciting topic in these political times, has been and will continue to be fundamental to three things President-elect Donald Trump has promised to improve – economic growth, trade deficits, and national security – and one thing about which he promised to keep an open mind – climate change.

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The Energy Revolution

by James L. Sweeneyvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, August 4, 2016

Since the oil embargo of 1973, individuals, corporations, and other organizations have found ways to radically reduce energy use.

Energy Efficiency by James Sweeney
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Energy Efficiency: Building a Clean, Secure Economy

by James L. Sweeneyvia Books by Hoover Fellows
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The entire world, especially the United States, is in the midst of an energy revolution. Since the oil embargo of 1973, individuals, corporations, and other organizations have found ways to economically reduce energy use. In this book, Jim Sweeney examines the energy policies and practices of the past forty years and their impact on three crucial systems: the economy, the environment, and national security. 

James Sweeney: Energy Efficiency: The Bad, the Good and the Reality

by James L. Sweeney
Monday, November 30, 2015

Hoover Institution fellow James Sweeney discusses energy efficiency on November 30, 2015.

California Capitol
Analysis and Commentary

Now is the time to invest in ending California's oil addiction

by James L. Sweeney, Sven Strohbandvia San Jose Mercury News
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oil price volatility will take a toll on California until we diversify energy supplies and reduce oil demand. The time has come for us to end our addiction to imported oil...