Articles filed under Energy Policy from California
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
The three-year fight over the Sunrise Powerlink, which is designed to carry solar, wind and geothermal energy, typifies the serious challenges facing President Obama and many of the nation's governors as they tout the power of renewable energy to put people to work and rescue the planet from the effects of climate change.
Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled that the air board approved the larger plan to implement AB32 prior to completing the required environmental review, and that the board failed to adequately consider alternatives to cap and trade. The Air Resources Board "seeks to create a fait accompli by premature establishment of a cap-and-trade program before alternative (sic) can be exposed to public comment and properly evaluated by the ARB itself."
"All this makes this whole situation so gray. And if you're a business trying to decide whether you should invest half a billion dollars in a wind farm in Oregon or Washington, or Montana for that matter, your financial folks are going to be pretty scared," said John Audley, deputy director of the Renewable Northwest Project.
"California is a very big variable," said Elliot Mainzer, who is Bonneville Power Administration's guru on how to balance future energy and environmental needs here in the Northwest. When asked if he thought California was carrying its weight as far as managing those type of issues, he said "I would like to see California pay a little bit more attention to our issues, quite frankly."