Electricity Prices Soar But No One Mentions Conservation
The article goes on to talk about regulating the electricity markets - or deregulating them - and then toys with the question of who is going to pay for building more power plants (coal fired I'm assuming). The consumer via higher electric bills? California has shown (by way of Enron) that having electricity price caps and calling it deregulation is a recipe for a very brown-out disaster. (Have a read through Vijay Vaitheeswaran's Power to the People for additional insight.)
What the NY Times article fails to mention is that people will have to choose whether to stay warm or go hungry. But the reason isn't due to higher electricity rates. It is because 1) our buildings/homes are inefficient, and 2) there is no incentive to conserve energy use during peak load time when energy prices are higher than at base load times.
Instead of energy regulation/deregulation politicos should be talking about how to make our living and working quarters waste less energy. Let's work with architects, developers, contractors, landlords to start requiring better insulation, windows, and broilers. (Andrew Padian of Steven Winter Associates gives a very convincing presentation on this matter.)
The positive side of higher electric bills however is similar to the spike in gasoline prices - people will inevitably think about their electric bills, and alternative sources will make headlines. The downside, people will blame the government and utility companies instead of reducing their own power consumption.