- Cold-Weather Investing: Coal, Natural-Gas and Heating-Oil Investments Will Pack a Punch in January
- The End of the Cap-and-Trade Masquerade Opens New Doors For Investors
- By Failing to Lock Up Canadian Oil Supplies, U.S. Exposes National Energy Plan Flaws
- China, Europe Lapping the United States in the Clean Energy Race
- How Washington Will Mess with Your Money in 2010
In short, now's the time to start thinking about such winter-related topics as heating bills, and such cold-weather investments as natural gas, heating oil and coal.
According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), natural gas provides heat for 55% of homes in the United States, followed by electricity, which warms 39%. Heating oil, propane and coal play only minor direct roles, although coal is used to fire 49% of America's electric generating plants, with another 20% fueled by natural gas.
That means natural gas is the natural choice of investors looking for winter-related profits - although Dr. Kent Moors, editor of Oil & Energy Investor newsletter and a frequent contributor to Money Morning, cautions that factors other than routine home-heating demand play a major role in setting prices.
Indeed, Financial Times columnist Clive Crook even said that the United States "has let the world down on climate."
But here's the irony. With the Senate's refusal, we may just have moved a step closer to a climate change policy that will actually work. And that's good news for U.S. taxpayers. And it opens new doors for U.S. investors.
At the end of the day, the United States dropped the ball on the oil sands, meaning Americans are stuck with yet another pieced-together national energy plan that has more sizzle than steak.
Unfortunately, the cost of this misstep will be higher than ever.
Both clean energy companies and a skilled workforce are heading overseas, where government policies are creating a more welcoming and promising market for clean energy products.
Take Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar, Inc (Nasdaq: ESLR). In 2008, it used $58 million in government aid to open a new Massachusetts factory to build silicon wafers and cells and assemble solar panels. But in November 2009, it announced the assembly of solar panels would be moved to Wuhan, China, where solar panel manufacturing will cost far less than in the United States.
Indeed, investors who are trying to estimate the impact that politics will have on their portfolios in 2010 are likely finding this attempt at analysis to be an exercise in futility.
If that's been the case, read on: Political pundits - even those who claim to be impartial - spend a lot of time trying to score points for their side. But they aren't really that interested in the economic aspects of the endless battle. I certainly don't claim to be any more unbiased than the next person. However, I thought it worth trying to take an educated guess at what will actually happen, and what it will mean for our money.