Monday, April 23, 2007

A glimmer of hope or a mirage?

I was reading Barrons last night and ran across a hopeful side-note in an article about a mining equipment company's fortunes.

"U.S electricity demand, half of it supplied by coal fired generators, was little changed in '06, a highly unusual occurance."

A bit later in the article this was followed by
"the flatlining of demand for electricity in the U.S. last year marked just the fourth time that's happened in the last half century."

This is the first I've heard of flat demand for electricity in the US last year, and I'll reserve judgement on this until I get further confirmation, but wowsers if this is true, this is a HUGE development. It means people are starting to conserve on a national basis. Of course electricity prices have risen significantly across the country (about 5% year over year), so perhaps this is just the normal demand drop that comes from higher prices. I frankly don't care what the source of the drop is so long as it is real. Our energy problem is vastly more solvable if we are not using energy at a rapidly increasing rate 2-3% compound growth y-o-y. Even small downward revisions to the rate of energy growth reduce the tread mill effect of having to generate more energy just to maintain the current standard for a growing economy.


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