As  reported in Huffington Post Green

Last night’s State of the Union speech held no real surprises for environmentally-minded watchers. The president sounds like he’s ready for, well, change — and a cap-and-trade bill.

Joe Romm recapped the energy-related portions of the speech at ClimateProgress:

Yet he made clear that even in these darkest of times — indeed, especially in these darkest of times — we must make clean energy a top priority, we must address our dependence on oil, and we must “save our planet from the ravages of climate change” if we are to remain a great nation….
“But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America….

“I think about Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community — how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. “The tragedy was terrible,” said one of the men who helped them rebuild. “But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity.”

Our Perspective:

We applaud President Obama, he has the courage to look into the future and define the direction needed to provide for our security and build a stronger America.

Too much has been spent,  putting band aids on and providing short term fixes. It is because of that mindset that we are now in this crisis.

There is no easy fix. But America has always shown the strength to pick itself up and make the difficult decisions when it is needed. We should not always be operating on crisis mode, maybe this time we will learn a lesson.

Energy will play a huge part in securing our future. As demand continues to grow, we will not be able to meet our growing demand for energy with our existing facilities. We must invest now in alternative energy to reduce the demand off the grid and at the same time update the infrastructure to be able to handle the growing demand.

America is poised to lead this effort. The public supports it. We must not let politics play a role. 

It is our responsibility to provide a better future for our children and grand children.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or emil george@hbsadvantage.com

  • Thursday Feb 19, 2009

Wholesale inflation jumps by largest amount in 6 months, reflecting higher energy costs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation at the wholesale level surged unexpectedly in January, reflecting sharply higher prices for gasoline and other energy products.

The Labor Department said Thursday that wholesale prices increased by 0.8 percent last month, the biggest gain since last July and well above the 0.2 percent increase that economists had expected.

The acceleration was led by a 3.7 percent surge in energy prices with gasoline prices jumping by 15 percent, the biggest gain in 14 months.

Even outside the volatile food and energy sectors, wholesale prices showed a bigger-than-expected increase, rising by 0.4 percent. Economists had expected a slight 0.1 percent rise in so-called core inflation.

Food prices were well-behaved last month, falling for a second straight month. The 0.4 percent decline in January reflected lower costs for beef and dairy products which offset gains in the price of vegetables and chicken products.

In addition to the big jump in gasoline costs, prices for home heating oil were up by 5.4 percent and liquefied petroleum gas, which is often used to heat homes in rural areas, surged by 20.2 percent, the biggest jump in more than six years.

Outside of food and energy, there were increases for pharmaceuticals, light trucks and passenger cars and civilian aircraft.

Despite the big jump in wholesale prices in January, economists do not believe inflation is on the verge of becoming a problem, given the country’s deep recession.

That downturn, which began in December 2007, has been keeping a lid on inflation pressures, which has given the Federal Reserve the room to slash a key interest rate to nearly zero without having to worry about kindling inflation.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told an audience at the National Press Club on Wednesday that he saw little risk that the Fed’s efforts to fight the recession and a severe financial crisis would trigger inflation presusres.

He said that once the economy begins to rebound and financial markets stabilize, the Fed will be able to quickly reverse the actions it has taken before inflation becomes a problem.

As reported in Huffington Green

Written by Dave Burdick

So it’s finally passed — a huge chunk of money will be flowing to infrastructure projects that are supposed to be green in nature and reinvigorate a faltering economy. But passing the stimulus was easy compared to what comes next:

In order to accomplish the task ahead, Energy Secretary Steven Chu thinks he’ll have to retool his agency, according to WSJOnline.com.
From Commerce to Energy, bureaucrats are wondering how their already limited staffs can accommodate the funding requests that will flood in. Even before the stimulus, projects awaiting approval have been stalled for months and years.

For instance, Massachusetts-based Beacon Power Co. has been waiting 25 months for a $50 million loan guarantee toward an electricity-storage plant, according to the article. Without the loan, Beacon can’t break ground.

 

And that’s just at the federal level. The Associated Press reports on the plights of several individual states and summarizes the problem this way:

While many states have made their lists of “ready-to-go” infrastructure projects available online for public review, others have resisted, in part because the limited stimulus funding means only a fraction of the projects will receive money. Watchdog groups say it’s likely that state officials fear angering constituents if a project appears on a wish list and then is struck from the final allocation.

Our Perspective:

 

The new buzzword is “shovel ready.”  All these projects that have been waiting on the sideline just waiting for the federal miracle.

Let’s not lose sight of what projects these dollars are used for. I am all for true infrastructure repair.

I heard the other day that one town was using the dollars to help beautify the entrance as you drive into their town.  That project should be put on the sideline. There are too many bridges and roads that actually do need repair, for they create a peril. This should be their focus.

Everyone is talking about clean energy. We are faced witha real problem. Our demand for energy continues to grow but we will not be able to support this growth in the next 8 to 10 years with our existing electric grid infrastructure.

The future rest in our hands. Let’s keep our eye on the ball and act responsibly.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Unemployment hits 7.6%

February 6, 2009

Written by JEANNINE AVERSA | February 6, 2009 10:34 AM EST  AP

WASHINGTON — Recession-battered employers eliminated 598,000 jobs in January, the most since the end of 1974, and catapulted the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent. The grim figures were further proof that the nation’s job climate is deteriorating at an alarming clip with no end in sight.

The Labor Department’s report, released Friday, showed the terrible toll the drawn-out recession is having on workers and companies. It also puts even more pressure on Congress and President Barack Obama‘s administration to revive the economy through a stimulus package and a revamped financial bailout plan, both of which are nearing completion.

“These numbers, and the very real suffering of American workers they represent, reinforce the need for bold fiscal action,” said Christina Romer, chief of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers. “If we fail to act, we are likely to lose millions more jobs and the unemployment rate could reach double digits.”

The latest net total of job losses was far worse than the 524,000 that economists expected. Job reductions in November and December also were deeper than previously reported.

With cost-cutting employers in no mood to hire, the unemployment rate bolted to 7.6 percent in January, the highest since September 1992. The increase in the jobless rate from 7.2 percent in December also was worse than the 7.5 percent rate economists expected.

All told, the economy has lost a staggering 3.6 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. About half of this decline occurred in the past three months.

“Companies are in survival mode and are really cutting to the bone,” said economist Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. “They are cutting and cutting hard now out of fear of an uncertain future.”

Factories slashed 207,000 jobs in January, the largest one-month drop since October 1982, partly reflecting heavy losses at plants making autos and related parts. Construction companies got rid of 111,000 jobs. Professional and business services chopped 121,000 positions. Retailers eliminated 45,000 jobs. Leisure and hospitality axed 28,000 slots.

Those reductions swamped employment gains in education and health services, as well as in the government.

Just in the 12 months ending January, an astonishing 3.5 million jobs have vanished, the most on record going back to 1939, although the total number of jobs has grown significantly since then.

On Wall Street, investors pushed up stock prices on hopes that the miserable jobs report would get Congress to move quickly on the economic revival package. The Dow Jones industrials gained about 120 points in morning trading and broader stock indicators also rose.

Employers are slashing payrolls and turning to other ways to cut costs _ including trimming workers’ hours, freezing wages or cutting pay _ to cope with shrinking appetites from customers in the U.S. and overseas, who are struggling with their own economic troubles.

The average work week in January stayed at 33.3 hours, matching the record low set in December.

With no place to go, the number of unemployed workers climbed to 11.6 million. In addition, 7.8 million people were working part time _ a category that includes those who would like to work full time but whose hours were cut back, or those who were unable to find full-time work.

Job hunters also are facing longer searches for work.

The average time it took for an unemployed person to find any job _ full or part time _ rose to 19.8 weeks in January, compared with 17.5 weeks a year ago, underscoring the increasing difficulty the out-of-work are having in finding a new job.

Workers with jobs saw modest wage gains.

Average hourly earnings rose to $18.46 in January, up 0.3 percent from the previous month. Over the year, wages have risen 3.9 percent.

An avalanche of layoffs is slamming the nation from a wide swath of employers.

Caterpillar Inc., Pfizer Inc., Microsoft Corp., Estee Lauder Cos., Time Warner Cable Inc., and Sprint Nextel Corp. are among the companies slicing payrolls. Manufacturers _ especially car makers _ construction companies and retailers have been particularly hard hit by the recession. Talbots Inc., Liz Claiborne Inc., Macy’s Inc. and Home Depot Inc. are all cutting jobs. So are Detroit’s General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

Americans cut back sharply on spending at the end of last year, thrusting the economy into its worst backslide in a quarter-century. The tailspin could well accelerate in the current January-March quarter to a rate of 5 percent or more as the recession drags on into a second year, and consumers and businesses burrow deeper.

Vanishing jobs and evaporating wealth from tanking home values, 401(k)s and other investments have forced consumers to retrench, which has required companies to pull back. It’s a vicious cycle where the economy’s problems feed on each other, perpetuating a downward spiral.

Many economists predict the current quarter _ in terms of lost economic growth _ will be the worst of the recession.

With fallout from the housing, credit and financial crises _ the worst since the 1930s _ ripping through the economy, analysts predict 3 million or more jobs will vanish this year even if lawmakers quickly approve Obama’s stimulus plan, which has ballooned to more than $900 billion in the Senate.

Obama has repeatedly pressed Congress to swiftly enact a package of increased government spending, including big public works projects and tax cuts, to revive the economy and create jobs. He says his plan will save or create more than 3 million jobs in the next two years.

But the recession has proven stubborn. Despite record low interest rates ordered by the Federal Reserve and a raft of radical programs, including a $700 billion financial bailout, consumers and businesses face high hurdles to borrow money. Foreclosures are skyrocketing, home prices are sinking and Wall Street remains on edge.

Our Perspective:

The public has lost confidence in our economy. Companies are scrambling to cut cost and one of the first things you look at is jobs.

Where will all this lead? I see people shaking their head saying, “I have never seen anything like this before!”

Everyone is looking to Washington. Do they have the answer. Decisions they have made in the past have put us here. A delicate balance must be met. To stimulate the economy, they must only focus of items that will truly stimulate the economy. Cut the pork.

Money put towards rebuilding our schools, infrastructure and alternative energy are quality of life issues and are considered an investment in our own future. This will create jobs. All the other projects fall under special interest that should be looked at in more detail and not be part of a stimulus package.

Cut out the politics and realize that we should all be focused on helping one another. Extend your hand and and offer real help.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

An Excerpt as reported in Bloomberg

By Bob Willis

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) — Manufacturing in the U.S. shrank again last month and consumer spending recorded an unprecedented sixth monthly decline in December, offering no sign the economy has hit bottom.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index was 35.6 in January; readings less than 50 signal a contraction and the measure has been below that level since February 2008. The Commerce Department said personal spending fell 1 percent in December, and reported a third monthly drop in construction.

Factories are likely to cut back further as the slump in household purchases leaves companies with stockpiles of unsold goods. General Motors Corp. plans to slash production at 15 plants through June in an effort to work off the surplus inventory, and Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. are also cutting back.

“The numbers are still terribly weak,” said James O’Sullivan, senior economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “Manufacturing is still contracting rapidly” while consumer spending is unlikely to recover “for a while,” he said.

Treasuries advanced and stocks gyrated between gains and losses. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock index closed down 0.1 percent at 825.43 in New York. Yields on benchmark 10-year notes fell to 2.72 percent from 2.84 percent at last week’s close.

A separate report from the Federal Reserve today showed a majority of U.S. banks made it tougher for consumers and businesses to get credit in the past three months even as lenders received infusions of taxpayer funds.

Our perspective:

The senate continues to debate over the new stimulus package as the economy continues to crumble. The question is, will it be a stimulus package or is it just more pork?

Hope has been running high that we can finally break through all the politics and turn our attention toward providing jobs and restoring stability. We must turn our eyes towards Washington and pray that they finally get it right.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Welcome to a periodic interview series SolveClimate is inaugurating with this video called A New York Minute with Dan Greenwood: Why the Recession is a Good Time to Invest in Green Infrastructure.

Usually, you will find Professor Dan J.H. Greenwood teaching in a classroom at the Hofstra University School of Law. He’s spent a good part of his career understanding corporations and their role in politics, and his work sheds light on why global warming is not something that corporations will be able to solve without government regulation.

We enticed him on camera to explain to us a thing or two about the pending economic recovery package. With the feds set to print a trillion dollars of new currency and give it away, we were alarmed. After all, if you or I tried to do that, we’d be thrown in jail.

For the good professor, there’s no such thing as a dumb question, and so he answered our concerns. He also explained a good deal more: why the current recession is an especially good time to invest in green infrastructure projects; how the poor have been impoverished over recent decades (no, that’s not a redundancy); and why the jobs we create are the truest measure of an economy that works.

To view the feature, click on the link below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vS2tVyUSWg&eurl=http://solveclimate.com/blog/20090127/video-economic-wisdom-green-recovery&feature=player_embedded

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

David Duprey / AP     As reported on MSNBC.com

Manufacturing particularly hit, analyst sees trend continuing through year

WASHINGTON – Rising unemployment spared no state last month, and 2009 is shaping up as another miserable year for workers from coast to coast.

Jobless rates for December hit double digits in Michigan and Rhode Island, while South Carolina and Indiana notched the biggest gains from the previous month, the Labor Department said Tuesday. A common thread among these states has been manufacturing industry layoffs tied to consumers’ shrinking appetite for cars, furniture and other goods.

With tens of thousands of layoffs announced this week by well-known employers such as Pfizer Inc., Caterpillar Inc. and Home Depot Inc., the unemployment picture is bound to get worse in every region of the country, economists say.

 

“We won’t see a light at the end of the tunnel until 2010,” said Anthony Sabino, a professor of law and business at St. John’s University.

The number of newly laid off Americans filing claims for state unemployment benefits has soared to 589,000, while people continuing to draw claims climbed to 4.6 million, the government said last week. There’s been such a crush that resources in New York, California and other states have run dry, forcing them to tap the federal government for money to keep paying unemployment benefits.

Aside from manufacturing, jobs in construction, financial services and retailing are vanishing — casualties of the housing, credit and financial crises.

  Highs, lows
States with the highest unemployment rates in December 2008:

1. Michigan, 10.6 percent
2. Rhode Island, 10 percent
3. South Carolina, 9.5 percent
4. California, 9.3 percent
5. Nevada, 9.1 percent
6. Oregon, 9 percent
7. District of Columbia, 8.8 percent
8. North Carolina, 8.7 percent
9. Indiana, 8.2 percent
10. Florida, 8.1 percent

States with the lowest unemployment rates in December 2008:

1. Wyoming, 3.4 percent
2. North Dakota, 3.5 percent
3. South Dakota, 3.9 percent
4. Nebraska, 4 percent
5. Utah, 4.3 percent
6. Iowa, 4.6 percent
7. New Hampshire, 4.6 percent
8. New Mexico, 4.9 percent
9. Oklahoma, 4.9 percent
10. West Virginia, 4.9 percent

Clobbered by problems at Detroit’s auto companies, Michigan’s unemployment rate soared to 10.6 percent in December. Rhode Island’s jobless rate hit 10 percent, the highest on records dating back to 1976.

Those states — along with eight others and the District of Columbia — registered unemployment rates higher than the nationwide average of 7.2 percent, a 16-year high.

South Carolina and Indiana posted the biggest bumps in their monthly unemployment rates. Each state logged a 1.1 percentage point rise in unemployment from November to December.

In South Carolina, the unemployment rate bolted to 9.5 percent as laid-off textile, clothing and other factory workers found it difficult to find new jobs.

“The money I was making, I’d be hard-pressed to find a job paying that,” said Gregory Smalls, a 49-year-old Columbia, S.C., resident who lost his more than $50,000-a-year job as a truck body shop manager when his department merged with a dealership’s service department.

Indiana’s jobless rate soared to 8.2 percent in December as workers were hit by layoffs in manufacturing — including at engine maker Cummins Inc. — as well as in construction and retail.

Many Indiana counties with high jobless rates are in the northern part of the state, which has been battered by layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry. Hundreds of workers have lost their jobs at RV makers such as Monaco Coach Corp., Keystone RV Co. and Pilgrim International.

Gayle Glaser, who owns the Shortstop Inn restaurant in Wakarusa, Ind., said those job losses have hurt her business, too.

“We just don’t have the traffic here from the plants,” she said. “All my customers coming in — they’re all laid off.”

States that have been spared the worst of the recession’s pain tend to benefit from energy and agriculture production, while also having relatively minimal exposure to the housing and manufacturing busts.

  Economy in Turmoil
Unemployment rose in every state in Dec.
  Rising unemployment spared no state last month, and 2009 is shaping up as another miserable year for workers from coast to coast.

Wyoming posted the lowest unemployment rate, 3.4 percent in December. It was followed closely by North Dakota at 3.5 percent and South Dakota at 3.9 percent.

In 2008, the country lost 2.6 million jobs, and in 2009 at least 2 million more jobs are forecast to disappear.

Minneapolis-based retailer Target Corp. said Tuesday that it will cut an undisclosed number of workers at its headquarters. Elsewhere, specialty glass company Corning Inc. said it would cut 3,500 jobs, or 13 percent of its work force, as demand slumped for glass used in flat-screen televisions and computers. And chemical company Ashland Inc. said it would eliminate 1,300 jobs, freeze wages and adopt a two-week furlough program.

Roughly 40,000 layoffs were announced on Monday by a string of companies, including Pfizer, Caterpillar and Home Depot.

To stimulate job growth and the broader economy, President Barack Obama and Congress are racing to enact a $825 billion package of tax cuts and increased federal spending, including money for big public works projects.

The U.S. has been mired in a recession since December 2007. It is on track to be the longest downturn since World War II.

Josh Nelson

Originally posted at The Seminal.

Natural gas does not get nearly as much attention as oil or coal. But the role this resource plays in our lives has been steadily increasing for decades. We must begin to address natural gas now, or we will leave future generations with a natural gas dependency reminiscent of our current dependence on foreign oil.

Here are some things you should probably know about natural gas.

Consumption of natural gas in the united states has remained relatively stable for the past 35 years.

But natural gas imports in the United States have more than quadrupled in the past 20 years.

And the price we pay for imported natural gas has more than tripled in the past 15 years.

This probably has something to do with the fact that production of Natural Gas in the United States peaked about 35 years ago, in 1973.

Recent enthusiasm for natural gas is due in large part to drastically increased shale gas production, particularly in the Barnett Shale. But the production process for shale gas, which includes fracturing the shale rock with water mixed with toxic metals and chemicals, is already polluting drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Russia, Iran and Qatar have about 55% of the world’s known natural gas reserves. They are planning to create a cartel for natural gas, much like OPEC. Russia has already shown how far they are willing to go to manipulate prices. Natural gas proponents in the United States like to point to the fact that natural gas is, for the most part, not a fungible commodity. This is true because compressed natural gas is very difficult and expensive to transport, especially over long distances. But this is only true for compressed natural gas. The rapidly growing market for liquified natural gas, which can be transported relatively inexpensively, changes the equation quite a bit.

This is a dangerous path we are heading down. We have been increasing natural gas imports and expenditures at a healthy clip for the past several decades, while domestic production has struggled to remain flat. Industry points to new domestic production potential, but the potential costs include access to clean drinking water for millions of Americans in the surrounding areas. Meanwhile, a handful of countries control a majority of the world’s reserves, and are planning to organize a cartel to manipulate prices. Their ability to do so is likely to increase in the coming years, due to market realities (increasing fungibility).

While replacing coal-fired power plants and drastically reducing oil consumption remain the two key components of transitioning to a sustainable energy policy, those who are interested in long-term solutions must look beyond natural gas as well. Yes, natural gas will play some role as a “bridge fuel”. It is clear that we will continue to use it in power generation for years and years to come. And I’ll grudgingly admit, the percentage of vehicles running on natural gas will almost certainly go up before it goes down. But we should be very cautious and smart about how we produce our natural gas, how quickly we use our reserves, and how we can use them most effectively. Above all we must begin thinking about how we will prevent the global power dynamics behind the oil trade from being replicated with yet another finite fossil fuel. I’m sure even T. Boone Pickens would agree with that.

Written by Timberly Ross  as reported by AP

 

OMAHA, Neb. — Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says the U.S. is engaged in an “economic Pearl Harbor.”

In an interview that aired Sunday on “Dateline NBC,” the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said the nation’s economic situation is not as bad at World War II or the Great Depression, but it’s still pretty severe.

Buffett said Americans are in a cycle of fear, “which leads to people not wanting to spend and not wanting to make investments, and that leads to more fear. We’ll break out of it. It takes time.”

Buffett’s interview centered on President-elect Barack Obama and the tough task he faces in fixing the U.S. economy.

“You couldn’t have anybody better in charge,” the Omaha resident said of Obama, who’ll be sworn into office on Tuesday.

As one of Obama’s economic advisers, Buffett said the president-elect listens to what his advisers say, but ultimately comes up with better ideas.

He predicted that Obama will be able to convey the severity of the economic situation to the American people and explain their part in alleviating it.

As to how long the crisis would continue, Buffett said he didn’t know.

“It’s never paid to bet against America,” he said. “We come through things, but its not always a smooth ride.”

Omaha-based Berkshire owns a diverse mix of more than 60 companies, including insurance, furniture, carpet, jewelry, restaurants and utility businesses. And it has major investments in such companies as Wells Fargo & Co. and Coca-Cola Co.

 

Let us know your thoughts? you may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Frigid temperatures and winter storms have blanketed the country from New Orleans to Chicago this month, weather that usually leads to a spike in the price of the most popular fuel for home heating, natural gas.

But not this year.

Natural-gas prices remain in a slump because manufacturers, which are even bigger users of gas than chilly homeowners, have cut back their operations in response to the recession. And low demand means low prices.

Associated Press

Despite a cold, stormy start to winter in much of the U.S., natural-gas prices have stayed relatively low as the recession hits industrial usage.

Despite an uptick this week, natural-gas futures have fallen 9% this month, to $5.910 per million British thermal units, and are down 16% from last year despite colder weather. Prices haven’t been this low in December since 2003.

Storage levels remain 3.4% higher than normal even after the frigid start to the season. According to federal data released Wednesday, the U.S. withdrew 147 billion cubic feet of gas from storage last week, about normal for this time of year, but less than would be expected after a bout of cold weather.

Boon for Consumers

Low prices are a rare piece of good news for consumers, who might get smaller bills this year for home heating and electricity.

But the price slump spells bad news for gas producers, who have been forced to slash spending on drilling, and for gas-producing states like Texas and Colorado, which had been shielded from the national economic slowdown by their strong energy industries.

[Natural Gas Futures]

The low prices come despite an unusually cold start to winter, which has seen rare snowstorms in New Orleans, Houston and Las Vegas, subzero temperatures in Chicago and a devastating ice storm in the Northeast.

Michael Schlacter, chief meteorologist for the forecasting service Weather 2000, said the weather so far this season has been the most extreme in at least eight years.

“Mother Nature’s doing all she can,” Mr. Schlacter said.

Manufacturing Downturn

But rising residential and commercial heating demand has run up against slumping industrial demand for natural gas, which is used to make everything from diapers to fertilizer.

“Industrial demand is going away in a big way,” said Abudi Zein, senior vice president at Genscape Inc., which monitors electricity generation and fuel supplies.

Forecasters expect the weather to warm up in at least parts of the country early in the new year, but industrial demand isn’t likely to recover for months because the recession has knocked down industries like auto manufacturing.

“We know industrial demand is going to be impacted in 2009 — it has to be,” said Dave Pursell, an analyst at energy-focused investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. in Houston. “Everything that goes into a car — steel, glass, plastic — is natural-gas intensive.”

Adding to the downward pressure on prices, natural-gas production has remained relatively high. Gas producers such as Chesapeake Energy Corp., Range Resources Corp. and Exco Resources Inc. have been slashing drilling budgets since autumn in response to falling prices. But it has taken months for those spending cuts to show up on the ground in the form of reduced drilling activity, and it will take months more for production to fall significantly.

Rebound Is Seen

Longer term, many analysts think prices are likely to rise. Tudor Pickering, for example, predicts gas will drop as low as $4.75 per million BTUs in the third quarter of 2009, but will rebound in 2010.

Subash Chandra, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., is predicting a faster recovery. Even though a lot of gas is in storage, he said, it can’t all be tapped right away, so the immediately available supply of gas is lower than many people think.

But after a year of ups and downs, no one can have much confidence in price predictions, he said. “Gas has thrown so many head-fakes in the past,” Mr. Chandra said. “Anybody who thinks they’ve had it figured out in December, even if they’re freezing their noses off, well, history tells a different story.”