NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The hard times of the 1970s became the good times of the 1980s after oil prices were pushed down under the Reagan Administration.It was a demonstration of "soft power," aided by the oil exporters, that helped win the Cold War but also ushered in wars we're still fighting. The "secret sauce" of the Obama Administration is that it's working on the same trick -- but not through foreign policy jawboning. Instead, it's being done through the liberal use of fracking technology, and the encouragment of renewable energy (especially efficiency). The big business story of 2013 will be that the energy crisis is over. In the last year we've seen the price of natural gas roll over. Flaring of gas in the oilpatch and a reduction in new gas production have gotten prices back to break-even. Now oil is in the process of doing the same thing. Energy producers are starting to notice their boom times are ending, as in this story
When they acknowledge a short-term glut of product, the oil bulls also assume this will kill other forms of burnable energy. (Heads I win, tails you lose.) Well, DuPont just broke ground on a new cellulosic ethanol refinery in Iowa,
reports BioFuelsDigest, as part of a new boom in non-food biofeedstocks. Biofuel companies that had been beaten down all year including Solazyme ( SZYM) are proving they can deliver at scale, Seekingalpha.com reports, and start-ups are working on a whole new class of "electrofuels" that produce electricity directly from living matter, BiofuelsDigest adds. Biofuel producers say they can make money with today's prices, and that their costs are falling. What about the sun? Consider that solar energy is now cheaper in California than other forms of grid energy, as The Motley Fool reported in April, and that the UK will achieve "grid parity" next year, according to The Guardian. Industry Week expects half the country will reach this point by 2016, a tipping point that will dramatically increase demand. So we have increased production, renewables coming on stream, and lower demand, not just next year but the year after that and the year after that. What happens when fossil fuel producers start seeing that the value, per barrel, of reserves in the ground is declining, not rising? Anyone who thinks that renewable energy technology is going to stand still, or that efficiency is going to stop paying for itself, isn't paying attention. From an investor's point of view it's not yet morning in America but I can see the sun rising from here. Our energy future is surprisingly sound. At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @DanaBlankenhorn This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.