Here’s a Washington Post article summarizing the National Petroleum Council summit on Thursday. The economics are pretty simple, and the statements coming out of the summit are in accordance with the economics: conservation in the short run, increased supply alternatives in the long run in keeping with the long lead times in exploration and in building liquefied natural gas terminals for LNG imports.

I would like to hear a more forceful, principled statement that retail competition and active demand are the best ways to encourage conservation. Much more effective than pleas to change your thermostat etc.

This Rigzone article (originally from Oil & Gas Advisory) highlights the demand side potential for conservation. It does so in a way and with a language that is much more within the traditional regulated context, talking about DSM programs (that’s demand side management) at utilities. Such a perspective reflects risk aversion and wanting to take baby steps toward meaningful two-sided retail markets. My take is more radical; why continue to discuss programs? Why not simply free utilities, gas and electric, to offer the contracts with the features that their customers want? If we’re smart enough to figure out what cell phone contracts we want, we’re smart enough to choose gas and electric contracts.