February 8, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives

The Long and the Short of Energy News

by Roger Durham

A quick scan of energy-related headlines last week presented an interesting perspective. Like a lesson in macro versus micro economics, the news reminded me that while long-term energy policy implications are at play in the Middle East, there are short-term infrastructure issues that challenge the supply of energy in the United States. That juxtaposition of long versus short term / global versus local concerns is not unique to this past week, but the contrapuntal headlines make it hard to miss:

Rolling Blackouts Force Texas to Import Power From Mexico

Egypt Riots Add Pressure on OPEC With $100 Oil: Energy Markets

California Pipeline Told To Cut Gas Pipeline Pressures

 Sizing up Egypt’s Impact on Exxon

 Natural Gas Crunch Leaves Thousands Shivering in Southwest

Egyptian Gas To Israel, Jordan May Halt For Two Weeks

We see images from the streets of Cairo and we are concerned about the people of Egypt. We empathize with their hunger for freedom and autonomy. But we also know that trouble in Egypt has implications at home as well. The cost of energy here is affected by unrest over there. That admission fuels the “dependence on foreign oil” debate, and we find ourselves, as a nation, tangled in a web of competing concerns.

Meanwhile, in the communities where we live, we see headlines about utility infrastructure concerns. Rolling blackouts in Texas in February? Really? Natural gas production halted by the cold in New Mexico? California utilities being ordered to turn down the pressure on their gas pipelines to avoid explosions like the one that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in San Bruno last September? While our leaders craft a global energy policy, there are infrastructure issues that require local attention.

The point is – energy is complicated. It is globally dynamic, locally important, and thoroughly complex in its production, distribution and cost. It’s easy to ignore the complexity when the lights come on with a flip of the switch, but there are many layers to the safe, reliable, affordable provision of energy. At a time like no other before, companies and individuals need to be more informed about the energy they buy and more thoughtful about the energy they use.

As an energy mangement firm, providing energy procurement and sustainability services, Summit knows that all too well. It is our job, as energy professionals, to understand the dynamic shifts in the energy complex around the world. Whether it’s a citizen’s uprising in Egypt or an interruption of supply in a regional U.S. market, the landscape is always shifting. When it comes to energy, we are all global citizens with local concerns. And that is the long and the short of energy news.

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