Electricity - the next oil
The U.S. currently has about 17,000 generators online pumping out 1 million megawatts of powers. In 2006, the overall North American system was running at 84% of capacity.
Much has been made recently about the time required to bring new plants online. In the next five years, new generators currently under plan or development will add less than 90 thousand megawatts, or under 10% growth. Over the past five years, demand has increased almost 13%. Since much of this added capacity will come from natural gas, the increase in this fuel's price and continuing storage deficit lead me to conclude that, gulp, we will experience continued escalation of our electrical bills.
On the bright side, perhaps many of us will now be able to cost-justify more steps to make our homes more efficient, such as insulation, new windows, and more efficient appliances.
Given these prospects, now would be an excellent time to shop for a generator, rather than waiting until the night before an ice storm.