I often send clippings to clients, and sometimes offer my "take" on stories. Over the past few weeks, I have been taken to task (somewhat) for my reporting of “bad news.” Frankly, there is not a lot of good news to report, though unquestionably there are opportunities abundant in the energy sector. And if one owns some substantial acreage above Appalachian Marcellus Shale, life is sweet indeed.
However, many people I speak with are consumers, and I think that it is important that they be aware of the trends that have been emerging for some time now. I also think that it is critically important that consumers act affirmatively to the extent that they can to manage their energy strategy. My perception is that for the majority of readers, price trumps all other concerns, though I try to make it clear whenever I speak that reliability is also an issue that cannot be ignored.
It is undeniable that a great deal of public ire has been aroused (and perhaps is being capitalized on) as we are faced not only with increasing commodity costs, but also with the pending end to electricity rate caps (in Pennsylvania) and the necessity of expanding infrastructure (everywhere). Can system engineering and operational imperatives accommodate market design and market pricing?
If it could be said, convincingly, that energy markets are working just fine, then we would have little to base our concerns on. However, there is profound disagreement with respect to whether markets are working, are being manipulated, or whether energy should be a function of market pricing at all.
While accusations of “gouging” and reactive “NIMBYism” are not productive, the debates now ongoing are vital and must take place if we are ever to form a viable energy strategy.
To end on a positive note . . . the lights are still on, and there is still gas at the burner tip!