The price of oil has taken a beating in recent weeks, dashing hopes of a quick recovery from the swoon that hit crude last autumn. Plenty of factors are pushing prices down now, but where does the market go in the longer term?
President Barack Obama’s long-awaited and just-released rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants have set off a political firestorm, with some states and businesses already rushing to sue Uncle Sam to halt what they see as a costly and unjustified regulation. Meanwhile, the practical effects of the rules and how they might, or might not, play out are getting overlooked.
It may not get a lot of headlines, but the nuclear power industry is facing some stiff headwinds these days. Big changes in the utility industry mean some plants might close for financial reasons. In time, that could make the U.S. more dependent on other power sources, increasing the risk of rising rates.
Though it’s July, it’s not too early to start thinking about this coming winter’s heating costs. Depending on how you heat your home or business, you might be able to lock in a favorable fuel price from your supplier or simply stock up at a time when prices are low.
Oil prices are off about 40% in just one year. And the number of rigs drilling new oil wells has likewise plummeted since last summer. But U.S. oil production is up, and promises to keep climbing.
In a recent issue, we noted that the battery industry is poised for growth as both utilities and their customers look for ways to store energy for use when demand is high or the electric grid fails. Battery tech is advancing and costs are falling, but batteries are far from the only viable way to store energy or provide backup power in emergencies. Two other approaches — one novel and one traditional — are also making strides.
The boom in shale oil and gas isn’t just unleashing a flood of new energy sources in the U.S. It’s also driving a massive build-out of the nation’s energy-carrying infrastructure, which is needed to bring that big bounty of crude oil and natural gas to market. At the same time, big changes for the electric grid mean utilities are investing heavily in new transmission lines to make sure your lights stay on.
The hydraulic fracturing boom has unlocked massive new supplies of natural gas, and in the process has driven gas prices to rock-bottom levels. But signs of building gas demand suggest that a long-term price recovery is in the works.
Oil prices have rebounded from their winter lows. But the oil industry isn’t out of the woods yet.
Whether you’re a homeowner, a renter or a business owner, and regardless of the energy source you rely on for heating, cooling and lighting, there is one simple way to save on your energy bill: Use less energy. To help you do so, this issue of Kiplinger’s Energy Alerts (issues are free through June 9) outlines ways to shave your utility costs, from making quick and easy changes to investing more substantially in energy efficiency.