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Feeling Powerless

Energy crises are doing more than making news and fueling fears of impending eco-doom; they're also really, really bad for business.

By Cynthia E. Griffin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

From higher prices at the gas pump and the electricity crisis inCalifornia to the soaring cost of natural gas in the cold-weatherstates, many entrepreneurs face a severe crisis of their own:whether their businesses can survive the unexpected, drasticincrease in energy costs.

A few years ago, many thought deregulation would be anentrepreneurial opportunity rather than a hindrance, and Californiaseemed proud to lead the way. But the natural gas shortage,combined with the failures of deregulation, resulted in anelectricity crunch in California that stands as a warning toentrepreneurs in other states on the verge of deregulation. BesidesCalifornia and Pennsylvania, which have fully enacted deregulation,more than 20 states have passed legislation or regulatory orders toallow for retail competition, according to Robert Schnapp, directorof the electric power division of the Energy InformationAdministration.

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