Good news on energy front fuels consumer optimism

Since the U.S. energy boom that started in 2012, our local and national heating oil, gasoline and propane costs have been lower and more consistent. This silent boost to the overall economy has propelled consumer confidence — which is higher than it has been in years — while sustaining American output of liquid fuels to the point that they are now available for export. Fracking has undermined OPEC’s clout and limited the organization’s ability to manipulate oil prices worldwide.

The Maine energy office’s latest heating oil report indicated that the statewide average price is under $2 a gallon. While not a huge concern in August, the number gives businesses and consumers a baseline to plan for the winter ahead, establishing budgets for improvements or managing consumption without strain.

Ingenuity in the drilling fields has led to continuous improvements to maximize each well, leading to one of the highest U.S. well-counts in decades — over 760. Despite so much American oil and gas output, over 9.4 million barrels of oil a day, OPEC’s mandated production limits for member states has not reduced world inventory levels or moved the price beyond a consistent window of $45-52 a barrel. The elevated U.S. production keeps inventories high, which maintains lower prices. Lower gasoline and diesel prices excite travel plans and increase consumer confidence for spending. Sixty percent of Americans say they feel more upbeat about their personal economy, according to the latest National Association of Convenience Stores consumer survey.

Another benefit of the renewed American energy success with fracking is the marked reduction in CO2 emissions in the U.S. due to increased power generation with natural gas — over 14 percent since 2005, ahead of nations with more renewable energy use.

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