Energy Policy and California
The upshot is that millions of Californians could soon experience power outages. As the state derives more of its electricity from renewables, it needs more "peak" gas-fired plants that can ramp up to meet demand when the sun isn't shining and wind isn't blowing-namely during dawn and dusk. Otherwise, rolling blackouts could ensue.
Nobody knows exactly how much flexible power is needed to ensure a reliable electric supply.
San Francisco is about to find out how much it costs to be clean and green. After years of study and initial approvals, city residents will learn the price of a new energy diet, one that promises electricity from only renewable sources.
In the latest demonstration that politicians and regulators are unqualified to operate an economy, utility executives are yet again worried about blackouts rolling across the state, this time because California's expensive rush to install wind and solar has left it dependent on renewable energy that is inherently less reliable.
If you thought your monthly utility bills were high now, just wait.
According to the nonpartisan Little Hoover Commission's report, "Rewiring California," ratepayers face soaring electrical bills because of the move toward adding more solar and wind energy to the power grid.
BrightSource Energy, now building two huge solar thermal plants to supply customers of Southern California Edison Co., added a large amount of heat-exchange energy storage capacity to its projects. ...probably a good idea, and the PUC quickly approved it. But once again, there was no mention of cost. No one knows how much consumers will pay for that improvement, so no one outside the utilities commission can judge whether the gigantic storage units will be worth the money they'll cost.
The reality: wind energy's carbon dioxide-cutting benefits are vastly overstated. Furthermore, if wind energy does help reduce carbon emissions, those reductions are too expensive to be used on any kind of scale.
The message is that California energy prices will soar, on top of the added costs of huge taxpayer subsidies that will be needed to finance so-called renewable energy sources. Wind, solar and geothermal energy are all economically infeasible without massive subsidies.
Like the huge amounts of taxpayer dollars already wasted in government subsidies for the ethanol industry, other renewable-energy endeavors are likely to face similar fates.
Perhaps the biggest impediment to passage of the 64-page bill was the number of interest groups with a stake in the outcome: utilities, environmentalists, labor unions, big companies such as Safeway and Shell Oil that procure their own electricity, and developers of wind, solar and geothermal power. Each faction, and the factions within the factions, kept pushing for amendments.
The questions can be posed pretty starkly: if the voters in a place like California can reject carbon curbs, and by extension, the shift to a clean energy economy, what chance for success do the concepts have in the rest of the country?
Nevertheless, many states have adopted a Jeopardy!-like approach in their energy policies. They are imposing detailed renewable energy mandates that prescribe how much of which renewable energy types must be installed by specific dates. But as in the game show, these renewable energy policies are the correct answers only in response to the right questions.
California is the leading contestant in this perilous renewable energy game.
Governor Schwarzenegger's plan to reduce greenhouse gases could fail to reach its goals - or it could expand the use of coal power in California. ...When Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order last week to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he made national headlines ...But a closer examination of Schwarzenegger's order reveals that the hype surrounding it may have been overblown.
Alternative energy has become quite fashionable, especially in electricity generation. Wind, solar, tides, dairies. If you can work "carbon emissions" or "global warming" into the press release, you've got a winner.
Electricity is the lifeblood of our America. Are you ready to turn back the clock on your standard of living? Until the technology improves on alternative electric energy sources, they all have to be considered experimental and supplementary. Here's why.
There is near-universal agreement that meeting the state's goals for reducing fossil fuels will require major new lines between California's cities and the places where the wind blows strongest and the sun shines steadiest. Is this power line the right project? No, but it won't be the last attempt. ...We might need new lines, but they need to built in the right way, in the right place, with the least impact to residents and our natural environment.
Federal approval could come early this year, after a seven-year fight with opponents, including environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who might see the towers on the horizon five miles offshore from their vacation homes.
Will we have the same battles here, or will Marin accept the installation of renewable energy producing facilities "in our backyard"?
Enthusiastic support for the abstract concept of renewable energy sources now meets the reality of what's on the ground.
Why has California basically stalled, while other states have forged ahead? I put the question to V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies in Sacramento.
First, Mr. White pointed out, California was the early leader in wind power - it installed several big projects in the 1980s (one of which, Altamont Pass, has been criticized for harming birds). Not much has happened since, however, and the fact that California moved early "means that the easy projects are already in," said Mr. White.
Now we're being asked to give a blank check to the DWP and City Hall to spend billions of dollars on the nation's largest solar energy initiative ever -- a proposal that has no planning, no financial analysis, no engineering study.
Approval of Measure B on the March 3 ballot would be a costly mistake. It will cost ratepayers dearly, set back hopes for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and provide the special interests and politicians with a license to steal.
Marin Clean Energy, the community electric power aggregation scheme, is gaining steam. The effort to fundamentally change Marin's energy supply is of such importance that voters deserve to make the final decision. The issue should be placed on the November 2009 ballot.
Gitmo and guns are getting all the press. But energy mavens are talking about another recent far-reaching - but little noted - U.S. Supreme Court decision on the California energy crisis: It took them seven years but they finally figured it out.
The revisionist part of the story is well known: Big bad oil traders like Enron gamed the market and drove up energy costs fifteen-fold. ...
But the Supreme Court turned this conventional wisdom on its ear and said there may have been misconduct by energy sellers, but no one ever showed that caused the crisis.
The U.S. Supreme Court is about to make its first decision on the worst energy crisis in American history: The California energy crisis of 2000-01.
The legal repercussions of this decision could change the way energy is bought and sold in America for generations. For good or bad.
As a former member of the California Legislature when this disaster of a law was passed unanimously (yes, I voted for it), I saw first-hand how bad regulators turned this consensus law into such an epic disaster. ...As a state legislator in California when this law was passed, I've seen first-hand how much damage this law - and even more importantly, its implementation - has done, and could continue to do if the Supreme Court does not reverse the Ninth Circuit.