World oil, but apparently not local shale gas skepticism

Michael Giberson

Tom Fowler has more on the ditching of shale gas skeptic Art Berman’s column by World Oil magazine.  Now the magazine’s editor is out too.

Read Fowler’s context, then follow the link to the former editor’s remarks, posted today on Berman’s blog.  Excerpts:

… The next day, the president stopped by to tell me that we had to stop Art from writing about shale plays.

I said, “I’m surprised that there haven’t been at least a dozen complaints. I’ve seen worse on other topics.”

It was no use arguing. Ironically, I had already decided that Art should take a break from the shale plays for a while anyway, just because he was running out of new things to say, having written 8 (I’m guessing) columns on that one subject. …

Immediately after I hung up the phone with Art, the Publisher walked in, slapped down a fax from DS, and said, “We’ve got to stop Art from writing about these shale plays, we’re getting too many complaints!”

Austin Energy’s future rate hikes

Michael Giberson

A few years ago Lubbock’s municipal electric utility was in a tight financial spot that threatened to put it and the city into bankruptcy.  When the utility pushed through a rate increase, customers started switching to competing electric utility Xcel.  The dwindling customer base forced the municipal utility to find another way out of their difficulties.  The utility reorganized management, negotiated some complex deals to reduce wholesale power costs, and made their rates competitive again.  It worked, Lubbock Power & Light is financially secure today and still offering competitive rates.

Austin Energy, the municipal utility for the Texas capital, foresees tough times ahead and the need to either “significantly raise electric rates” or “start losing millions by 2011.”  Fortunately for the utility, Austin Energy is a monopoly and its customers cannot escape rate increases so easily. (See Marty Toohy’s article, “Electric utility proposes major rate increase,” in the Austin American-Statesman.)