By Ronald Stein
Governor Newsom announced on Friday September 11th that he is about to take one giant step toward following Germany’s failed climate goals which should be a wake-up all for governments everywhere. Like Germany, California’s renewables are becoming an increasing share in intermittent electricity generation, but at a HIGH COST. Power prices in Germany are among the highest in Europe.
California’s high cost of electricity is already fifty percent higher than the national average for residents, and double the national averages for commercial, and are projected to go even higher. The inability to replace the closure of continuously uninterruptable electricity from nuclear and natural gas power plants with intermittent electricity from renewables of industrial wind and solar is causing the state to import more and more of its electricity.
California is proud of being the only state in America that imports more electricity than any other state, now at 32 percent. With the state having no plans to replace the capacity of the recent three natural gas power plants that were shuttered in 2018 and the upcoming five power plant closures (four natural gas and one nuclear) with in-state intermittent electricity from wind and solar, California will need to increase its imports of high-priced electricity from the Northwest and Southwest to fill the void, and let residents and businesses pay the premium.
Germany tried to step up as a leader on climate change, by phasing out nuclear and natural gas power plants, and pioneered a system of subsidies for industrial wind and solar that sparked a global boom in manufacturing those technologies. Germany is failing to meet its climate goals of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions even after spending over $580 billion by 2025 to overhaul its energy systems. Germany’s emissions miss should be a “wake-up call” for governments everywhere, but Governor Newsom has yet to wake up.
Not only has the shuttering of four gas plants been deferred to a later time, but the zero-emission generating plant at PG&E’s Nuclear 2,160 megawatt plant at Diablo Canyon to be shuttered in 2024 remains on schedule. The Diablo plant supplies zero emission electricity to 3 million households.
The four gas plants, that are part of the fossil fuel arsenal, that were given a shuttering deferral for the time being, to allow them to continue providing continuous and uninterruptable generated electricity are:
- The 310 mw Natural Gas Power Plant at Redondo Beach, that was scheduled to be shuttered in 2023.
- The 823 mw Natural Gas Power Plant at Scattergood in Playa Del Rey, that was scheduled to be shuttered in 2024.
- The 575 mw Natural Gas Power Plant at Haynes in Long Beach, that was scheduled to be shuttered in 2029.
- The 472 mw Natural Gas Power Plant at Wilmington, that was scheduled to be shuttered in 2029.
Until the 2020 summer, California utilities and grid operators were able to purchase extra electricity from the Southwest and Northwest, but when the heat wave stretches from Texas to Oregon there is little available to make up for California’s power shortage.
By continuously shuttering in-state power plants, the state will need to import more high-priced electricity from the Southwest and Northwest to fill the void as the states continues to support the disparate cost effects onto the poorer, less educated residents of all races and ethnicities, resulting from importing electricity at premium rates.
As California fires rage, nobody is taking responsibility for the unlimited “fuel” for the fires. Rather than addressing ways to reduce the amount of “fuel” awaiting the next spark, homeless campfire, gender reveal, or lightning strike, California’s Governor Newsom’s solution is for more litigation and a reorganization of a utility company to prevent devastating wildfires.
It’s a shared responsibility of all parties as to why we’ve accumulated so much fuel for a fire and continue to allow its growth. Year after year, Democrats have supported environmentalists who have litigated and lobbied to stop efforts to clear the forests through timber harvesting, underbrush removal, and controlled burns.
California has forbid forest management, and builders continue to build wood tinder box homes adjacent to the stockpile of “fuel” for any fires in the forest, and homeowners do very little to fireproof their homes sitting amongst all that “fuel” for the fire.
In addition to promoting the growth of fuel for the next forest fire, the dysfunctional energy plan to “leak” emissions to other states for California’s electricity needs, to help achieve in-state emission reductions, is also based on the hopes that other states will be able to generate enough to replace the shuttered California power plants and will have the extra capacity to add to the grid!