After several delays, the Energy Department's fourth National Energy Policy Plan is scheduled for release July 29--and the Reagan administration appears ready to acknowledge the importance of conservation.

A final draft of the plan, according to sources, declares that conservation is "as important as production in determining the future evolution of the U.S. and world energy situation."

Given the cold shoulder the Reagan administration has given federal conservation activities, staff members who remain in this corner of the department say they wonder whether this proclamation will be followed by increased support for their remaining programs.***

TESTING, TESTING . . . The department yesterday began a six-week simulated test of procedures for withdrawing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But before anyone gets too excited, it is important to note that no oil will move--only paper.

The test, known as Distribution Readiness Exercise B, will involve simulation of the administrative procedures that would be used if a new oil crisis prompted the Reagan administration to begin selling oil from the reserve.

Meanwhile, sources say there may be less than meets the eye to the shake-up that Secretary Donald P. Hodel announced last month in response to charges of fraud, waste and mismanagement in the operation of the reserve.

Joseph Lagrone, head of the Oak Ridge Operations Office, has sent what he calls his "Tiger Team" of investigators to inspect reserve headquarters in New Orleans. But for the most part, sources say, it is business as usual.***

WHERE IS HE? . . . Energy employes say they are starting to wonder what is holding up the nomination of special presidential assistant Danny J. Boggs to be the new deputy secretary of energy. Sources say Boggs still is the White House choice, but the announcement has been a long time in the making.

Another Executive Office Building resident, meanwhile, will not be moving to the Forrestal Building after all. William Martin, a member of the National Security Council planning staff who was in line to become assistant secretary of energy for international affairs, changed his mind at the personal urging of NSC Director William P. Clark.

The department still is lacking a controller, following Howard Messner's move to the Environmental Protection Agency last month. Assistant Controller Elizabeth Smedley has been running the department on an interim basis.***

EASY COME, BUT NOT EASY GO . . . Robert Morgan, who agreed last winter to come to Washington for a couple of months to oversee implementation of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, is living proof that it is hard to go home again.

Morgan heads the office that oversees operation of the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina that produces all the plutonium and tritium for America's nuclear weapons. He agreed to come here on the understanding that he would be home by late spring.

Well, spring has come and gone. Now the man the White House chose to replace him as the first permanent director of the Office of Civilian Waste Management, Clemson University President Bill Lee Atchley, has withdrawn from the running.

The search for a candidate is back to square one. Morgan refuses to take the job permanently, and insists that he intends to return home as soon as possible.