Dateline:  February 7, 2014.

You may have received a notice from your California utility today that power shortages have hit the state and customers need to conserve.   In the winter?   A power shortage?   Isn’t that only supposed to happen during heat waves?  What gives?

It turns out that the “polar vortex” slamming the rest of the U.S. is causing reduced supplies of natural gas that, like a Floridian retiree, doesn’t like very cold weather. It turns out that frozen well pumps, icy roads and increased demand for gas in the rest of the country have caused the price of natural gas to skyrocket.  If we Californians don’t reduce our electric and natural gas consumption, the utilities will pay higher prices for gas and, as they do far too often, will simply pass that higher costs onto we Californians.

So, if you have the opportunity to forego your use of electricity tomorrow and/or set your heater a bit lower than usual,  you’d not only be doing a good thing but you may even end up with a credit on your bill.   If nothing else, it is a show of ‘colditarity’ with all of our Eastern neighbors who are struggling through an unforgiving winter.   And for those customers who took the plunge to install solar energy panels on their roofs — thanks for helping us get through this unusual mess.