is it, or isn’t it?

I once worked for a weekly newspaper in central New Mexico that served an expansive area of ranches and farms. As the county’s paper-of-record we were guaranteed income from legals, so we could afford to devote plenty of space to local news. The most popular columns were written by farm wives who covered their county extension “club” meetings and among them, my favorite reporter was Loraine Burns, who told us all about the Ewing Farmerettes’ monthly get-togethers. She concluded every article with the pleasing conviction that “a good time was had by all.”

Award-winning journalist Judy Woodruff spoke at EEI’s annual convention in June.
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That’s exactly what I want to say about every conference I attended this year: A good time was had by all. Good conferences balance serious seminars with a little silliness and throw in great keynote speakers to add a little spice. At EEI’s annual convention in Washington, D.C., journalist Judy Woodruff spoke about today’s political divide, where compromise is seen as a sign of weakness; at the APPA national conference in Chicago, Frank Deford, sports writer and NPR commentator, mused about the American sports and leisure culture. More college kids major in sports management than engineering. (Frank was pretty funny. He even linked the words “pimp” and “editor” in one quip without offending me.)

Then you get down to your real purpose: attending workshops. I learned a lot, absorbed about half of it and now I am left with one big question after all this capital-letter activity at KEMA, CIS, IEEE, APPA and EEI, and I pose it to you, EL&P reader. In March, at KEMA’s Executive Forum on Energy Markets, FERC commissioner Nora Mead Brownell said we don’t have markets in this country, because “we think energy is an entitlement.” At EEI, James Miller, PPL Corporation president and COO, said, “Electricity is not a commodity, it’s an entitlement.” Seems to me a lot’s riding on this. Which is it, entitlement or commodity? What do you think?

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