Under a Biden Administration, Get Ready for Nationwide Blackouts

by | Nov 11, 2020 |

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If the public wants to know what is going to happen with a Joe Biden presidency as to energy, they should consider the disaster unfolding in California. Just as Biden plans for America as a whole, the Golden State is sweeping away the forms of energy that have been reliable for decades. Power outages are now commonplace in California. Last summer, the state suffered its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years. Imagine if this happened in Chicago in the middle of winter.
California’s trouble is explained by officials who now openly admit to an over-reliance on wind and solar power. The governor said there was not enough wind to keep the turbines going with cloud cover and nightfall restricting solar power. Even the Los Angeles Times reported: 

“… gas-burning power plants that can fire up when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing have been shutting down in recent years, and California has largely failed to replace them …”

Consequently, the state has fallen thousands of megawatts behind its needs (a megawatt is one million watts; your light bulbs are mostly 100 watts). Governor Gavin Newsom said, “we failed to predict and plan for these shortages” and took responsibility for the rolling blackouts. He wants everyone to conserve while they look for new sources of energy. Whether they like it or not, that energy will have to be supplied by fossil fuel from neighboring states. This, as California continues its misguided intent to transition to 60% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% “climate-friendly energy” by 2045 (which is required by state law). Candidate Biden has even gone further and committed to making the nation 100% renewable within 15 years.

Like the incoming Biden administration, the California government has been acting entirely under the unfounded belief that climate change is a calamity that can be stopped by eliminating fossil fuel.

In fact, in their October 6th report, “Preliminary Root Cause Analysis – Mid-August 2020 Heat Storm,” the heads of the state’s Energy Commission, Independent System Operator and Public Utilities Commission highlighted “The climate change-induced extreme heat storm across the western United States” as the first cause of the blackout. Ironically, they concluded their letter to Newsom:

“We are unwavering in our commitment to meeting California’s clean energy and climate goals. Thank you for your personal engagement on these issues and for your unequivocal commitment and leadership on addressing climate change.”

California’s shift toward so-called green energy, which is actually anything but, is being echoed by the Democratic leaders across the nation. The result, especially in states that don’t enjoy California’s mostly benign weather, is going to be that those in the poorest neighborhoods and those on fixed incomes may be forced to choose between heating or eating.
Let’s drill down into this a bit more deeply.
Each state must have the capacity to produce or arrange for the importation of, energy to meet their needs. Wind and solar power input to an electric grid forces the ramping up and down of reliable energy from fossil fuel which creates costly inefficiencies. In addition, the utilities cannot keep a steady output for their customers on their grid without backing up every kilowatt-hour of wind or solar required by their states’ laws with the very same amount of extra fossil fuel power. So, they get to build and charge for additional fossil fuel power whether used or not, getting more money for the construction they build and the fuel they burn. The more expensive the reliable backup, the more profitable it is for the utilities. So, naturally, the utilities love it.
Coherent energy systems are designed with the understanding that portions of the system will be offline from time to time. Thus, one compensates for this with reserve power at the ready. However, California has closed its margin for error in response to anti-nuclear sentiments and climate change hysteria.
Power outages cannot always be avoided and are more common than one may think. For example, Illinois had 871 outages, the 10th most by state, between 2008 and 2017. Texas had nearly twice as many, giving it the dubious distinction of ranking number two in the list. But these pale in comparison to California which has the least reliable electrical power system in the nation. It leads in power outages every year. Between 2008 and 2017, they had 4,297 power outages. 
The origin of the problem is partly California’s Senate Bill 1368 which, in 2006, established the state’s emission standards to reduce greenhouse gases from power plants. Following that year, 11 coal-fired plants were closed and 3 were converted to biomass. Only one remains. The state also reduced its normal reliance on energy from out of state coal plants.
Yielding to environmental radicals, the state also closed all but one nuclear plant, which is at Diablo Canyon. This plant generates about 18,000 GW-h of reliable electricity every year, a whopping 8.6% of California’s total generation.
But Diablo Canyon will soon be closed as well. After all, during its construction and operations, anti-nuclear protests abound and nearly two thousand civil disobedience arrests were carried out in a two-week period in 1981. So, in 2016, working in concert with Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups, Pacific Gas & Electric announced a Joint Proposal to phase out the remaining nuclear power in the state. The California Public Utilities Commission approved the proposal and the operating licenses for Diablo Canyon’s two units will not be renewed when they expire in 2024 and 2025. Ironically, the Commission did not approve PG&E’s proposal for resources to replace the station’s output. 
It does not appear to matter that nuclear reactors produce no greenhouse gas emissions during operation. They are hated by enviro-radicals driving California’s energy policy, putting the state even further behind the 8-ball. 
And it gets worse. California wants all citizens to switch their natural gas stoves to electric as part of their global warming resistance initiatives. More than 30 cities have already enacted bans on gas appliances including San Francisco. The state is also hoping to eliminate all gasoline and diesel cars in favor of plug-in electric automobiles.
California is sacrificing reliable electrical power on the altar of the fight against climate change. This will have no impact on our planet’s climate but certainly will on sales of candles, flashlights, and propane heaters. 
So, welcome to the future in a Democratic Administration, America. The blackouts are indeed coming.
Image: Bloomberg

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Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.

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Y.D. Robinson
Y.D. Robinson
1 year ago

I think that geothermal energy would make an excellent complement to solar and wind power when those latter two, by themselves, are less than reliable. This is especially so in a state like California that has many geothermal sources, given that parts of that state are volcanically active. This is even though geothermal tends to have high upfront costs; a massive advantage of geothermal is that, unlike fossil fuels, it is clean-burning and doesn’t take up a lot of land like solar/wind or hydroelectricity.

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