Talking About Energy
In the background of the high-minded debate about the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is the undeniable fact of higher energy prices. Between October 2001, when Congress was deliberating the first version of the measure, and May 2005, the latest date that government numbers are available, natural gas prices shot up from $6.39 to $10.33 per thousand cubic feet. During that time, the price of an average kilowatt hour of electricity rose from $7.82 to $8.39.
For facility executives, the energy law represents a double opportunity. The measure offers tax incentives for investments in energy efficiency and some kinds of power generation. (See article.) Those incentives are available for only two years, however — a window that will preclude many organizations from taking advantage of them.
But passage of the law also offers a reason to talk about energy to top management. The hook for the conversation may be the tax incentives. Or it may be the need to address, on a corporate level, the matter of long-term energy economics, just as the energy bill seeks to do on a national level. Or headlines about the law — and energy prices — may offer a chance to dust off proposals for energy upgrades that didn’t win support in the past.
Whatever the goal of the conversation, now is a good time to hold it. Although there are plenty of energy policy issues that remain to be addressed, there’s no telling when or if Congress will revisit the subject. Indeed, given how long it took to get the new law passed, this could turn out to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.