Appalachian Basin

The Sun Shines A Little Brighter in Florida Thanks to Natural Gas

What makes the sun shine brighter in the South?  Florida Power and Light prides itself on having a 26 percent lower energy bill than the national average; and, to top it off, they like their energy home grown.  Bryant LaTourette, an upstate New York landowner, has a second home in Florida and is shocked at how low his electric bills there are.  The reason for the lower energy costs?  Primarily natural gas!

Natural gas is a cheaper, cleaner, home grown fuel source.  It is leading America to become more energy independent by the day and it is also making the United States a key player in the world’s energy game.  The nice part about our home grown energy is how it’s reflected in U.S. jobs, lower costs, and more dynamic local economies, not to mention a cleaner environment.

Florida Power & Light (FPL) is not bashful about citing the role of natural gas in the state’s energy and economic successes. Here are a couple of ads from their materials and Facebook page:

foreignoil

made in america

The impact of this emphasis on natural gas is clear in the upturn in Florida’s Consumer Confidence Index.

“Running counter to the potential effects of both the payroll tax holiday expiration as well as the unfolding federal budget sequestration, Florida’s consumer confidence index (CCI) rose to 79 in April – a four percent increase from March and an over eight percent increase from a low of 73 in February, according to data supplied by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic Research.  While the national index fell two points (as measured by the University of Michigan’s survey), Florida continues to display signs of tail winds and is positioning to be an economic leader moving into the second quarter of 2013.

“As a leading economic indicator of projected business activity in coming months, the CCI measures sentiments and opinions on a set of consumer perceptions  and is widely used as a gauge of overall economic trends.  While national trends suggest that short-term consumer spending may cool, Florida’s outlook continues to show signs of light.  Of the five indicators used in the index, four showed growth with one staying unchanged.

“Most notably, the indicator for expected economic conditions one year from now rose over 11 percent this month – from 72 in March to 80 in April.  Are Florida’s policies and focus on strengthening job creation and improving the business climate effective?  Apparently Florida consumers seem to think so.”

While Florida is recovering rapidly from their recession and their consumer confidence is up (imagine what they could do if they had the natural gas reserves we have!), New York State is collapsing from within as our Governor twiddles his thumbs over whether or not to take a chance on offending Yoko Ono.  The Southern Tier’s population has experienced the largest relative decline among all New York State regions, dropping, according to a Census Bureau population estimate, by 0.6 percent since the 2010 census.

Here’s what WSKG had to say about what’s happening:

Jan Vink is a researcher at Cornell University’s Program on Applied Demographics. He says the decline can be attributed to the region’s aging population and young residents leaving to find work elsewhere.

“I’m afraid that the availability of jobs, or the lack of availability of jobs, is part of that explanation,” he says.

Broome County lost the most residents in New York State with a net loss of about twenty-five hundred, followed by the Western New York counties of Chautauqua and Niagara.

The new estimates seem to confirm a trend of young people leaving upstate regions. According to an Empire Center study published last year, the population of individuals in the 25 to 34 age group declined by about 7% during the last decade.

It’s no secret why people are leaving New York State and the Southern Tier – there is no work to be found and no economic opportunity.  We are now the dead zone, and all too many people seem to be just fine with that as long as they can retreat to their natural gas-heated apartments in New York City.  The Governor of New York knows he has a problem upstate but is not only unwilling to show leadership, but also unwilling to even follow the successful example of Florida.  New York is withering as as Florida blossoms.  Yet, we have a resource under our feet that could do even more for us than Florida.

Florida is doing it right.  They are using natural gas to lower costs for consumers and producers of goods, harnessing the power of the market to upgrade their natural environment at the same time.  Moreover, while New York State is losing people, primarily in the Southern Tier, Florida is increasing in population.  Each state should follow in Florida’s footsteps and try to decrease costs to the residents while investing in our country’s future.

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