Global energy markets in 2011 were plagued by something more devastating than economic malaise: nature. With weather being in the lap of the gods, and as nature takes its course, some scenarios are impossible to predict. And 2011 had its fair share of outliers. continue
Whether you’re a retailer needing to keep the lights on at hundreds of stores nationwide or an industrial company running intense machinery, energy is a mandatory resource for business. The fact that energy management companies like Summit Energy exist is, in and of itself, a testament to the basic, but important, role of energy. For nearly every business, keeping operations running requires electricity and/or natural gas.
It is difficult to believe 10 years have passed since Enron filed for bankruptcy on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2001. The company was America’s darling. Like the Titanic, Enron was thought to be unsinkable. It seemed to do no wrong; it was a company that could not fail. At the height of its power in 2001, Enron ranked seventh on the Fortune 500 with revenues topping $100 billion, a status earning it the moniker of “America’s Most Innovative Company” six consecutive years by Fortune magazine. The company’s business model was heralded to be a paradigm shift in business, a poster child for the new economy and modern markets, a firm that relied more on the development of intellectual capital and technology than on the creation of brick-and-mortar, physical assets.
When I was but a wee tot, I really, really wanted a pink, battery-powered Barbie car. I coveted. Oh, yes. My parents, however, had sense enough not to shell out $400 for a piece of plastic that zipped along at 0.2 miles an hour and that I likely would have plowed into the family dog as soon as I took the wheel. I had to settle for a “manual” toy car that I powered myself through a hole in the floorboard — a la “The Flintstones.” I probably got going faster in that thing than I would have in the Barbie-mobile. I definitely got more exercise!
I hadn’t thought about those childhood toys in years, until I listened to an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air back in June. The host talked to the senior editor for Popular Science magazine, Seth Fletcher, about his new book, “Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars and the New Lithium Economy.” Fletcher believes that “advanced lithium batteries could hold the key to an environmentally sustainable, oil-independent future.” Read more here. continue
My car (a ’99 Honda Accord with 175,000+ miles) has been paid off for several months now and with all the new entries in the market, I’m officially shopping for a new car. (The Dude, Jeff Bridges, is quite convincing about the new Hyndai Sonata.) Fellow WaterCooler blogger, Eric Bickel is also making me see fuel economy in a whole new way. Now, the question is, do I go hybrid and put into practice a personal sustainability strategy? continue
Recently, Summit Energy commodity analyst Matt Smith appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box to field questions on how the release of 30 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) affects the crude oil market. Matt’s appearance led me to do a little digging on the history of the SPR, which uncovered five fascinating historical footnotes, some awesome ’70s-era YouTube video clips and 62 underground salt caverns that hold more than 700 million barrels of crude oil. continue
June has been a whirlwind of activity at Summit, and I’ve had trouble keeping up with everything going on. (Not that this is different than any other month, but I digress.) In the midst of all the standard nuttiness were some speaking gigs by Summit folks who are pretty well known as experts in their fields. continue
With election season nigh upon us, it’s pretty common to open up the news and see a handful of issues that only get pulled out a few times a year. Suddenly, they are dusted off and take center stage in the public debate. Financial concerns, moral and legal issues, and of course energy debates will be a part of this year’s election coverage – and it’s not hard to understand why. Small changes in any of these arenas can bring about big change in public life. continue
Eight months after the San Bruno, Calif., natural gas pipeline explosion killed eight people, injured dozens and left 55 homes uninhabitable, I still run across articles nearly every day regarding the ongoing investigation of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and what could have been done to avoid this tragedy. While most of these articles place an understandable and significant amount of blame on the utility, there have been a few that turn some of that blame to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). continue
I was making Easter dinner when I remembered that I forgot to buy butter. Real butter. Contrary to the belief of my sons, real butter is not the stuff that sits in a tub and never changes shape. I have to have real butter on holidays.
The grocery store was closed, so I made my way to an open drugstore hoping they might have what I needed. I noticed the tanning salon was open next door. Easter… Fourth of July… Festivus… nuclear holocaust… nothing could close the irreverent tanning salon.
Tanning salons are a lot like traffic court. You never know what you might run into. I think my favorite experience at the tanning salon would have to be the young mom who couldn’t understand why she couldn’t take her baby into the booth with her. I’ll save my traffic court stories for another post. continue