From the President, USAEE
James L. SmithCary M. Maguire Chair in Oil and Gas ManagementEdwin L. Cox School of Business Southern Methodist University Dallas, TXjsmith@mail.cox.smu.edu
Spring has arrived, at least for most of us. With the change in season come several predictable adjustments to the energy economy. Gasoline consumption will pick up as U.S. motorists have more time and feel more inclination to hit the road. Natural gas consumption will surely decline over the next few months, and markedly, as we move out of the heating season. Power generation will begin its inexorable ascent from the yearly low (which occurs in April) to reach the annual peak (usually in July), as required to meet the seasonal demands of air conditioning. And within the power sector, wind generation is certain to take the opposite tack, falling off the annual peak which occurs every spring and beginning a fast and steep descent towards its usual summertime low. Despite the fact that commercial solar power constitutes only a small share of the U.S. energy economy, we should be reminded that solar power in the broader sense, as reflected in the resulting seasonal patterns of energy generation and consumption, affects all sectors of the energy economy in very fundamental and predictable ways.
It is the unpredictable variations in the energy economy that are particularly vexing. We strive—even after the fact—to understand the impact of each new shock to the status quo. Truth in these matters is obscured by the idiosyncratic nature of each new surprise that presents itself, as well as the complex interrelations that connect energy to other sectors of the economy. Who can say with much certainty, for example, whether the current low-price oil cycle is good or bad for the broader economy? I suspect that debates over questions such as this one must have enlivened many discussions within our profession during the past year, and will continue to challenge some of our prior beliefs going forward.
To further such discussions, I cordially invite all of you to attend the 2016 USAEE Annual Conference, where a full and broad agenda will provide ample opportunity to discuss and debate the changing energy scene, and to contemplate the portents of those changes with respect to the growth and health of the broader economy. The conference will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma during October 23-26. In addition to the plenary and concurrent sessions, the Program Committee is planning several field trips that encompass both renewable and conventional energy resources. Tulsa in particular, and Oklahoma in general, is unique in being at the leading edge of technology in both arenas. Come and meet your colleagues. Come and see the future. Come and share your knowledge. Come and learn. I hope to see you there.