Economy

The Electric Bill Of The Near Future Just Might Use 'Time-Of-Use' Pricing

Mar 17, 2016
Anders B Knudsen / Flickr - Creative Commons

Electricity pricing for your home has been relatively straightforward. The more you use, the more you pay. That simple equation is no longer so simple. Increasingly, the time of day when you use electricity factors into the cost as well. It's called time-of-use pricing, and while it can save money and energy, it's not always popular.

Jim Hill / KUNC

Colorado employment is off to a strong start in 2016. The state added 5,200 payroll jobs in January, and the unemployment rate dipped to 3.2 percent.

"It was 15 years ago that we saw unemployment numbers this low," said Alexandra Hall, Chief Economist for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

While those numbers are encouraging, economists are concerned about the impact of sustained low oil prices on jobs in the oil and gas industry.

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The U.S. oil and gas industry was shocked by the sudden death of Aubrey McClendon. The former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, a major producer now floundering under low oil and gas prices, was an influential executive. His death came just a day after being indicted on bid rigging and price fixing charges.

Chesapeake Energy was a key leader in the U.S. oil and gas boom of the last decade. It was aggressive with new technologies and took big risks leasing a lot of land with oil and gas locked up in tight shale rock formations. These days though, there's a lot of bad news coming from the oilfield. Companies large and small are laying off workers and selling off assets. Even among companies in trouble, there's just something different about Oklahoma-based Chesapeake.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn/Jim Hill / KUNC

Colorado's economic fortunes are often told as a success story. Statewide unemployment was 3.5 percent in December 2015, and, according to the latest Economic Datebook report [pdf] from the Kansas City Federal Reserve, employment growth is 'broad based across industries.'

Yet the Fed's February report also shows that the state's recovery from the recession, and its economy in general, is uneven. The rising tide of Colorado's economy is leaving some boats stranded on the shore. 

North Dakota Is Feeling The Pinch Of The Commodities And Oil Price Slide

Feb 3, 2016
Emily Guerin / Inside Energy

On the surface, North Dakota doesn't seem like a state full of risk-takers. It's conservative, faith and family-oriented. Yet many of the state's residents are constantly making big bets on how much money they're going to make next year, or whether they're going to have a job in a few months.

That's because the state economy is dominated by commodities – raw goods like crude oil, cattle or wheat – which have all fallen 34 percent, 30 percent and 16 percent respectively in the past year. The entire state is feeling the effect, but residents of small towns like Killdeer are on the front lines.

Happy times are here again at the gas pump. The price of oil keeps falling, and Americans are filling their tanks for less than $2 a gallon. The government says cheaper gasoline put an extra $100 billion into drivers' wallets last year alone.

That seems like it would be good for the economy. Turns out, it might not be.

"Is it possible that lower oil prices could actually hurt the U.S. economy?" asks Vipin Arora, an economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "I think the answer could be yes."

Emily Guerin / Inside Energy

Every month, the director of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources, Lynn Helms, unveils a series of indicators that paint a picture of the overall health of the oilfield — and the numbers [.pdf] given at the January 2016 meeting weren't so good.

As oil prices continue to slide, these are some of the measurements that North Dakota uses to gauge the industry – similar to how other boom states look at their producers.

Will Coal's Slump Leave States Like Wyoming On The Hook For Cleanup?

Dec 1, 2015
Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Among the top 10 coal producing states, over one million acres of land has been "disturbed" for coal mining operations, according to data from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement. Reclaiming those mines, filling them with dirt and recreating the ecosystem that once was is expensive. As the coal industry downturn rapidly advances, companies may no longer have the cash on hand to pay for billions of dollars in cleanup costs.

David Fulmer / Flickr - Creative Commons

"Colorful Colorado" may one day need to be referred to as "Crowded Colorado," given the number of people expected to soon move here.

Weld County's population is expected to double to half-a-million – and El Paso County will still be the largest county. It's not just the Front Range; A Rocky Mountain PBS I-News analysis of data from the state demographer and the U.S. Census Bureau shows seven of the 10 fastest growing counties will be on the Western Slope, including Eagle, Garfield and Routt.

The numbers show an estimated 7.8 million people will call Colorado home by 2040. All that growth will take a toll on the state's infrastructure as well as water and other natural resources.

by Mark Jarvis / Flickr/Creative Commons

Even with about a month left in 2015, it’s already been a record-setting year for visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park. Just over 3.9 million people visited the park between January and October – topping 3.4 million in 2014. Park officials say the number could easily top 4 million if trends continue.

"When you look back at what our visitation was last November and December [2014], we had roughly 170,000 people during those last two months," said park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson. "Given that we’re already really close, we’re assuming that we will likely hit the four-million mark – if not by the end of November, then certainly by the end of December."

At this point the park is less than 60,000 visitors away from hitting that milestone.

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