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Gas prices high for six months; Citizens: conserve energy

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman says we're in for six months of high gas prices as production levels reduced by both Hurricane Rita and Katrina return to normal:

"We're going to go through a very challenging time the next six months, is my guess," Bodman said. "Most of us have viewed energy availability as a kind of right of citizenship," he said, and might have to rethink that as refineries are restarted, pipelines repaired and natural gas processing resumed. "Both in terms of gasoline availability and (prices of) natural gas and heating oil, we're going to have some problems."

Put on your sweater, Citizen, because Bodman unveiled his plan today:

The administration and the Alliance to Save Energy launched an energy efficiency campaign on Monday that calls on homeowners and businesses to "use energy more wisely" heading into the winter heating season in an effort to reduce demand on the struggling energy sector...
The administration is looking to consumers and businesses to take a number of first "easy, sensible steps" such as weatherizing their homes and lowering their thermostats to see how effective such efforts can be in reducing energy demand.
"We're going to do our very best first to see what we can accomplish by a reduction in demand for energy which this is all about...we hope that that will affect prices," Bodman said.
The administration is prepared to tap national oil and heating reserves if the market illustrates the need for additional supplies, Bodman said.

BTW, the HuffPost entitles their link to the USAToday story "Echoes Of Jimmy Carter... Bush Admin. Urges Energy Conservation, Warns Of Energy Shortages".
And, the official site associated with this effort is energybug.org. It just uses flash and not plain HTML, so I declined to view it.
See also "Oil Prices Retreat As Refinery Reopens":

Energy futures retreated Monday after power was restored to a large refinery in Texas and the Bush administration said it was, in principle, prepared to tap an emergency supply of heating oil in the Northeast.
But analysts said they did not expect fuel prices to fall sharply anytime soon because of the persistent supply constraints caused by back-to-back hurricanes.
In the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, a dozen refineries along the Gulf Coast remain closed, crimping gasoline and heating-oil production, and oil and natural gas output is far below normal levels. Under the circumstances, brokers said the decline in energy futures on Monday should not be seen as the start of a significant downtrend and they warned it could be merely a pause in a broader uptrend.
"I think it's more likely that this is probably a consolidation before the next move higher," said broker Tom Bentz of BNP Paribas Commodity Futures...

White House told power crews to restore pipeline first, then hospitals

From this:

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.
That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals [Stone County Hospital in Wiggins and George County Hospital in Lucedale] and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt...
..."I considered it a presidential directive to get those pipelines operating," said Jim Compton, general manager of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association - which distributes power that rural electric cooperatives sell to consumers and businesses.
"I reluctantly agreed to pull half our transmission line crews off other projects and made getting the transmission lines to the Collins substations a priority," Compton said. "Our people were told to work until it was done.
"They did it in 16 hours, and I consider the effort unprecedented..."
...Dan Jordan, manager of Southern Pines Electric Power Association, said Vice President Dick Cheney's office called and left voice mails twice shortly after the storm struck, saying the Collins substations needed power restored immediately.
Jordan dated the first call the night of Aug. 30 and the second call the morning of Aug. 31. Southern Pines supplies electricity to the substation that powers the Colonial pipeline.
Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Mike Callahan said the U.S. Department of Energy called him on Aug. 31. Callahan said department officials said opening the fuel line was a national priority.
Cheney's office referred calls about the pipeline to the Department of Homeland Security. Calls there were referred to Kirk Whitworth, who would not take a telephone message and required questions in the form of an e-mail.
Susan Castiglione, senior manager of corporate and public affairs with Colonial Pipeline, did not return phone calls...

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