Frustration with energy problems boiled over at a recent Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. conference.
The situation for the entire Western grid is ``abysmal'' and requires a concerted political effort to reach a remedy, said Paul Appelblom, national vice chairman of Washington-based SPI and president of injection molder Jatco Inc. of Union City, Calif.
``We need long-term solutions,'' he said at the SPI National Molders Division and Western Region joint conference, held March 11-13 in Las Vegas.
While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has responsibility for the problems, ``at the end of the day, we have a legislative problem, and we better get it fixed.''
Charles Brewer Jr., president of Brevet Inc. in Irvine, Calif., illustrated one problem. An interruptible energy program shut down the injection molder 40 times in 2001. The investor-owned utility would not let Brevet out of the program, Brewer said.
The energy situation increased 2001 costs more than $500,000 for injection molder Cal-Mold Inc. of Mira Loma, Calif., according to President Erik Fleming. Another molder said his firm is ``in a holding pattern on decisions'' and can't budget because of energy uncertainties.
A corporate energy specialist encouraged processors to define unit-cost production and profit potential.
``Without the strategies in place, you have no guidance, no foundation,'' said Bill Tobin, business development manager with injection molder Johnson Controls Inc.'s controls group in San Diego since 1999. Earlier, he handled national accounts for Sempra Energy's nonregulated solutions division.
``It has been my experience that a number of molders, especially in the smaller shops, do not have a strategy put together,'' Tobin said. ``They are very job-oriented and machine-oriented rather than being business-oriented.''
Tobin criticized California Gov. Gray Davis and legislators for having ``no clue'' about how to deal with last year's energy situation and ``no fallback position'' on capacity and pricing issues.