Daily Archives: September 13, 2011

Energy Buying Is Definitely Not For Those Looking for a Quiet — or Easy — Life

A recent article over on the CPO Agenda on how energy buying is not for those looking for a quiet life made some great points. As the article notes:

  • there is continuing political unrest in many oil-producing nations (and 20%+ of available oil goes to international shipping alone [Source])
  • the recent Japanese disaster has cause a renewed apprehension to nuclear energy production (and Germany is going to decommission its nuclear plants that supply 25% of the country’s electricity)
  • in most countries, renewable sources still account for less than 5% of electricity production
  • demand for fossil fuels is still rising, and the rapid rise of China and India which, combined, hold over 1/3 of the planet’s population combined, isn’t helping


  • significantly increasing energy production from renewable sources, while now a technical feasibility, will cost many (many) Trillions of dollars which have to come from somewhere (as a side note, 2010 saw a record level of investment of over 240 Billion — but we probably need at least 10 times that for a rapid increase in the production of renewable power)
  • deregulated energy markets, which will soon account for a majority of state markets in the US, allow money grubbing financial types to play hedge games (and we know what eventually happens to hedge markets when Wall Street types get involved)


  • energy cost models can be complex: costs of generation, transmission, storage, distribution over third party networks, and taxation, each with their own cost models, need to be taken into account

All-in-all, you are dealing with a very complex, and very volatile, commodity whose price performance can be almost impossible to predict even in the short term. And even if you manage to lock in a mid-term contract at great rates, what happens if prices spike and your provider goes bankrupt because it predicted downward performance and signed too many deals at the start of what was actually an upward trend? Or if you decide to generate your own electricity and your fuel supplier all of a sudden stops delivering? There will be sleepless nights. Unless you thrive on them, beware of energy buying. It’s not for the faint of heart.