Library filed under Energy Policy from California
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.
This useful report prepared by the California Public Utilities Commission for the Legislature examines the high cost of California's renewable portfolio standard which mandates 33% of the state's electricity needs come from renewable energy.
The utilities have warned that the push to buy renewable power will raise customers' bills. PG&E, for example, estimates that renewable contracts will add about 1 to 2 percent to bills each year through 2020. ...Long-term power purchase contracts with wind farms, solar plants and other renewable energy facilities averaged 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
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.
California is weighing how to avoid a looming electricity crisis that could be brought on by its growing reliance on wind and solar power. ...the surplus generating capacity doesn't guarantee steady power flow. Even though California has a lot of plants, it doesn't have the right mix: Many of the solar and wind sources added in recent years have actually made the system more fragile, because they provide power intermittently.
Economists are more skeptical about the long-term benefit to the county. They point out that solar and wind farms bring in an initial boom of constriction jobs, but require very few workers once they're up and running. The five projects being built in Imperial County will generate 1,946 temporary construction jobs but only 71.5 permanent ..."Once you build them you don't need many folks to maintain them."
The power they produce can suddenly disappear when a cloud bank moves across the Mojave Desert or wind stops blowing through the Tehachapi Mountains. In just half an hour, a thousand megawatts of electricity can disappear and threaten stability of the grid. To avoid that calamity, fossil fuel plants have to be ready to generate electricity in mere seconds.
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.
This report by the California Milton Marks “Little Hoover” Commission, an independent state oversight agency, calls on State leaders to direct the state’s energy organizations to assess the cumulative impact of recent major energy-related policies on electricity rates and reliability and whether these policies are achieving California’s energy and environmental goals. An excerpt of the executive summary is provided below. The full report can be found by clicking on the links at the bottom of this page.
A low price for credits and minimal demand for future offsets suggest California will see a mere fraction of the $1 billion that Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers estimated the state would receive this fiscal year. If demand remains similar in two forthcoming auctions, the state would generate only about $140 million.
Barbara Boyle, a senior representative at the Sierra Club's regional field office in Sacramento, says Ivanpah could have been located at any number of other locations where it would have had less impact on the environment and the tortoises that live there. Boyle says there are multiple areas in Southern California, including old dried-up agricultural lands and mining areas, that would have been more suitable.
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.
California's increasing use of renewable power will come at a price, pushing up electricity bills across the state. And while it's impossible to tell how big the cost to consumers will be, some experts fear the total cost of renewable energy in California will be in the billions of dollars.
Rep. Gary Miller issued a statement through his campaign committee, blaming short-sighted Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento who in 2002, with Gov. Gray Davis at the helm, mandated power companies in California to generate a greater percentage of "so-called" green energy.
The commission alleges DyoCore's claims for the energy-generation capacity of its turbine are 7.5 times greater than theoretically possible. Many of the sites where installations were made were in low wind areas that would not have supported power production.
Wind power is the fastest growing component in the state's green energy portfolio, but wildlife advocates say the marriage has an unintended consequence: dead birds, including protected species of eagles, hawks and owls. "The cumulative impacts are huge," said Shawn Smallwood, one of the few recognized experts studying the impact of wind farms on migratory birds.
This letter prepared by Michael Picker, Senior Advisor to the Governor of California for renewable energy facilities, to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council explains that the State of California appears to have met its 33% RPS requirement for 2020. Excerpts of the letter are provided below. The full letter can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
Brown's goal, being fleshed out this week at an invitation-only conference at the University of California, Los Angeles, is to build 12,000 megawatts of distributed renewable energy, building on and extending former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's target of 5,000 MW by 2020.
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.
Since the law was passed, 59 percent of the contracts the utilities have signed with renewable power developers have been more expensive than the levelized price of electricity from a new natural gas plant. The levelized price takes into account the costs of building, operating and fueling the plant. ..."The thrust of the message is, we need some kind of cost containment," said Yuliya Shmidt, a regulatory analyst with the commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates.