The Market Will Provide

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted April 26, 2006

Last week I found a local WaWa convenience store selling 87 octane for $2.87 a gallon. Disgusted with myself for being so excited, I strategically lined my car in unison with the others and waited patiently to be gouged.

But could be worse. I could be the poor guy who runs the Ford dealership down the road advertising his "Lowest Prices Ever" SUV sale.

For him, I'd like to offer a moment of silence...

Okay, that's enough.

You know as well as anyone, keeping quiet isn't something we do well. Especially when provoked by high oil prices. But if your biggest complaint is forking over $100 or more to fill your SUV these days, prepare yourself to really get hostile!

Because we're not even close to how bad it's going to get.

Equally Incompetent

Today, the only thing slipping faster than oil supplies seems to be the President's approval rating. Agitated consumers smacked around by high gas prices don't make for happy voters. So it's no surprise to see Republicans trip over themselves in an effort to sedate these voters with inadequate solutions and empty rhetoric.

Fortunately for the GOP, the democrats are doing an outstanding job at not capitalizing on what could easily win them votes in the next election.

But this isn't about Republicans or Democrats. For the most part, both sides are equally incompetent.

Sure, it's nice to see Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid declare to the voting public that "Congress must act to ease the burden." Yeah... you think???

And of course, listening to the President warn big oil that he's asking the Energy and Justice Departments to open inquiries into whether or not the price of gas has been illegally manipulated is almost comical.

But here's something that you might not find so funny.

The cost of everything this summer - food, clothing,'s all going to skyrocket as the transportation sector passes its increased fuel costs onto you.

How's a $2.00 apple sound to you? Or maybe a $4.00 loaf of bread? Perhaps a $200 particle board coffee table?

The Market Will Provide

While Washington spends the next week playing grab-ass on the Hill, the market is proving once again that it can deliver real solutions.

You see, in an effort to reduce pollution from truck engine idling, a number of states have issued idling laws that limit the amount of time a truck can idle. Though the laws do differ from state to state (the EPA is currently working on creating a more consistent patchwork of laws to avoid confusion), these limits range from three-minutes to thirty minutes.

Now if you're not a truck driver, this may sound all well and good. But here's the problem...

Truck drivers are federally required to take 10-hour rest periods for every 11 hours they're on the road. So during these rest periods, they typically sleep and eat in their cabs. But in order for them to run their heating systems, air conditioning systems, microwaves, refrigerators, etc. - their on-board diesel engines have to generate the necessary electricity.

Now imagine telling a truck driver that he can't idle during a 10 degree winter night in the Midwest because of an idling law. He'll freeze!!!

So to allow truck drivers to turn off their engines, yet still have access to heat, air conditioning and electricity, a number of companies are now jumping on the 'Truck Stop Electrification' bandwagon.

But with today's high oil prices - this has become more about a high fuel cost solution than an environmental one.

Estimates have shown that idle-reduction technologies could reduce diesel fuel use by about 800 million gallons a year. In the scheme of things, that may not sound like much. But it equates to a potential savings of a bout $2 billion a year for the trucking industry.

And just as high fuel costs will be passed along to will any savings from competing transportation companies utilizing idle-reduction Truck Stop Electrification.

Truck Stop Electrification essentially allows drivers to plug-in their tractor trailers to operate their heaters, air conditioners and run electrical appliances while they are resting.

And these things are actually quite impressive.

Take a look at a system designed by the company IdleAire.

This thing's got it all. Internet, telephone, USB ports, television, air conditioning, heating. Even a built-in Touch Screen computer.

Now while this system, and similar systems from different companies are only now starting to pop up at truck stops throughout North America, I believe that the fuel savings alone are enough to push this little niche market forward.

That's certainly been the case with everything else.

If the going rate for a barrel of oil was $30, there's no way you'd see the President pumping up ethanol and hydrogen. And you sure as hell wouldn't be reading about Truck Stop Electrification right now.

But it's not $30 a barrel. It's over $70...and it's going to continue to get higher.

As it does, more and more of these niche markets will continue to deliver real solutions...and real profits.

And if you don't believe it, take a look at the Green Chip Stocks portfolio - and see for yourself.

Until next time...

Jeff Siegel
Managing Editor, Green Chip Stocks