Absent a surge in natural gas pipelines and related infrastructure, companies may struggle to get ample supplies to utilities, leaving consumers grappling with either lofty prices or the difficult decision to substantially scale back their energy consumption.

California Prices

Such was the warning from executives and regulators alike during CERAWeek by S&P Global. But they also emphasized at the event in Houston last week that rapidly evolving technology, coupled with price incentives, could simplify matters.

Incentives crafted by regulators and implemented by utilities could empower consumers to adjust the daily rhythms of their lives to avoid activities that require energy during peak demand periods. In turn, they would be rewarded with lower bills and help conserve natural gas for when it is...