It seems as if wherever a renewable energy forum develops, elected officials are sure to be present, using the open dais as an opportunity to pledge their support to green energy, to clean communities and a clean environment. Cynics may sense that what is really occurring are just symbolic politics -- elected officials appealing to constituents through public statements; establishing renewable energy incentive programs and offering various sums to "demonstration projects."

So, what is really going on here: it is the symbolic politics of the new millennium or is it something bigger? I suspect that there is more going on than symbolic politics. A substantive philosophical debate undergirds the proclamations of officialdom and the debate is certainly something worth paying attention to now and in the future. I contend that the energy debate is really about the nature of energy as a good. Is energy a private good? A public good? Or a marketable public good?