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Ted Gaines: California’s green energy mania threatens grid reliability

Ted Gaines | Other Voices

California is failing at the government basics. Public safety, homelessness, roads, and water storage are all in shambles. But as long as that shameful list is, it’s about to get longer. With summer around the corner, when demand is at its zenith, our energy supply will not be up to the task.

California’s headlong rush toward zero-carbon power will cost consumers through wildly expensive electricity rates and lower grid reliability. That’s a lose-lose for California families and businesses who want to avoid blackouts and avoid energy poverty.

Golden State politicians and Progressives — groups with an almost total overlap — live in dread fear of possible changes in weather decades in the future. Instead of planning for localized mitigations to deal with changing climate, they’ve decided to remake our entire energy sector, replacing affordable, dependable sources with their opposites.

A case in point is the closing of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, scheduled to stop operations in 2025. Despite disingenuous claims that PG&E is choosing to close this facility, they are being forced into closure by California regulators who can make relicensing extraordinarily time consuming and expensive.

How important is Diablo Canyon? It currently produces about as much power as all the rooftop solar in the entire state. And unlike solar and wind, this power is available on-demand, 24/7. PG&E, the plant’s owner, alleges it will replace all the lost power with so-called green, renewable resources, but what if it can’t?

The North American Electric Reliability Corp., a nonprofit dedicated to promoting grid reliability, thinks it won’t. The organization notes that California already has insufficient reserve power to meet demand during a heat wave. Closing Diablo Canyon will only contribute to declining reserve margins, according to the nonprofit.

All of that is to say that blackouts are coming when it gets hot in California, as it does every summer. Don’t be surprised when your AC won’t click on or you’re burning candles for light in this supposedly advanced state. The blackouts are entirely predictable and a direct result of California energy policy making our grid unreliable by replacing on-demand resources with intermittent ones.

And remember, California is pushing people into electric cars through incentives and government decrees. Many people will be charging up those electric vehicles when they get home from work, right after solar energy production peaks. We are creating dreadful imbalances that will lead to energy rationing in one of the wealthiest areas in the world.

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen recently tweeted about the Ukrainian crisis and its effect on our energy markets and independence: “Build 1,000 new state-of-the-art nuclear power plants in the United States and Europe, right now. We won’t, but we should.”

He’s right all the way around regarding energy independence and reliance on aggressive rogue states such as Russia for our energy.

But it’s the last line that hits closest to home in California. We need to reverse our green energy mania that prices electricity like a luxury good and guarantees blackouts.

Dependable, affordable energy is within our grasp if we commit to predictable, on-demand resources such as nuclear and natural gas. We won’t, but we should.

Former state Sen. Ted Gaines represents the Board of Equalization’s 1st District with nearly 10 million constituents in 30 counties of northern, eastern and southern California. For more information, visit boe.ca.gov/Gaines.


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