Remember the gas lines of the late 1970s and early '80s? Remember only being able to obtain gas a few days of the week, depending on the last letter of your license plate?
That energy crisis led to a recession and, ultimately, forced consumers into thinking about smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Indeed, through the mid-80s small cars fared well with auto sales, but by the end of the decade Americans once again where switching back to pickups, minivans and a new style of vehicle - the SUV.
We Americans are a fickle bunch. When times are bad, we conserve. When times are good, we splurge.
Two weeks ago Consumers Energy officials announced they had canceled plans for a new coal-fired energy plant for Bay City. They cited rising costs and a lack of consumer demand as reasons for that decision.
Since then opponents of Wolverine's plant in Rogers City have suggested the same fate could perhaps occur Up North because of the recession and the demand for energy just isn't as great as it once was.
Wolverine officials, meanwhile, contend that to compare the two plants - Rogers City and Bay City - is like comparing apples to oranges. They contend different circumstances and goals exist between the two.
We believe it fair to raise the question about Wolverine's future in light of the Consumers announcement. We believe it reasonable to listen to the opponent's contentions and draw our own conclusions.
And ultimately, it matters not what anyone else thinks but Wolverine folks, who in the end will determine whether its economically feasible to continue forward with the plant's construction.
We also think it prudent to remember the gas line lessons of decades ago. Demand for energy is indeed down today. Our question, however, is what will be it be like tomorrow? If the state's economy is on the rebound like many believe it to be, we suspect demand for energy is about to increase again.
If that is true, we wouldn't rule coal out of the picture entirely just yet.