I was attacked by armed drones, survived, and am here to tell you about it.

Webster defines drones in part as “an unmanned aircraft or ship guided by remote control or onboard computers.”

We are under assault by drones now.  A recent “near death” experience drove home the notion that we, as an industry, need to deploy our own drones.

“Yesterday” would be good.

In August I was returning home from an errand with my wife when I was engaged by two drones at the front door to my house.

As I pulled into the driveway, there they were.   Short of turning heal and driving away, I had no place to go.  I had to go head-to-head with them.

Mano a Mano

I stood strategically and tactically, placing my body between them and my wife as we got out of the car.

I could tell right away, this was going to be ugly.  They were poised, ready to attack.   It was “kill or be killed.”

No, they did not have four propellers each, they did not hum with the noise of electric motors, they were not equipped with cameras or streaming video equipment (that I could tell) nor did they have HellFire missiles mounted and at the ready.

They were, however, drones, in the strictest sense of the word; controlled remotely, and, and at the risk of stretching a metaphor, armed with their own missiles, intent on doing our industry harm.

These drones came in the form of two twenty-somethings, still in college, in shorts and tee shirts, trying to sell me on the so-called good reasons for a carbon tax on all fuels.  They were representing a “public interest research group.” It was clear they were under the control of a remote entity, carrying out a mission they neither understood nor questioned in any way.

When they told me who they were and what they were selling, I smiled with the best ‘evil smile” I could muster and politely informed them that I was going to be a “tough sell.”

I thought I was polite (my wife says “not so much”) as I proceeded to skewer them with questions about the so-called efficacy of their proposed “government program” to be, naturally, funded from the cash receipts of such a tax.

They had no idea how much their tax would collect, how many people it would employ, who would oversee it, etc., etc.

When I asked when the tax would ‘sunset,’ they looked at me blankly, with a look that said “Sunset?  No, this will be funded thru the end of time!”

I peppered them with example after example of prior and current “government programs,” all born out of some well-intended premise, but that are continuing to waste money, grow in size and revenue and with little or no hope of eventually going away as their mission is never actually accomplished.

It was clear from the looks on their faces and their body language that they knew they had stepped into a proverbial “bear trap.”    They couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

As I watched them peddle away, I asked myself why don’t we have our own drones, one or more for every one of theirs, out there, pounding on doors, spreading our good word?

Shane Sweet is an energy and management consultant with clients in the heating oil, propane and motor fuel sectors.  He is a Partner with the firm of Lake Rudd & Company and as of Nov. 1, 2014, he is the new Executive Director and Technical Director for the New York Propane Gas Association.  He served the industry as President  & CEO of the New England Fuel Institute “NEFI” from 2007 to 2011, and as Executive VP/Director and Lobbyist for the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association “VFDA” from 1993 to 2007. He lives in Shaftsbury, Vermont and may be reached at shanemsweet@gmail.com or 802-558-6101 cell/text. Suggestions by readers for future column content, as well as general comments, are welcome.



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