This recent article title for a Public Utilities Fortnightly editorial reminded me of where we are in our relationships to energy consumers. A lot has changed about how we think about the business and how consumers think about their energy choices.
You will no doubt get caught up in the numbers because they are certainly interesting, and probably happily wear out your muscles patting the industry on the back for its impressive improvements in the energy efficiency of devices in the home, but you will then miss the big message here.
At one time, it was considered a luxury to have these things. That has moved to more of an expectation that you SHOULD have these things. You can still get along without AC in Los Angeles but you won’t in all likelihood. You can, and we did, go without AC here in Atlanta when Susan and I were first married. We used a whole house fan and it was OK.
But, expectations change and comfort and convenience trumps the other cards in the deck. Today, you can’t build a house in Georgia without AC and expect to get a mortgage.
We really need to rethink the regulatory premises for affordable energy going forward given all the changes in technology. Maybe we aren’t really thinking this through.