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California’s “Green Energy” Completely Fails to Power State

California’s “Green Energy” Completely Fails to Power State

Back in the early 2000’s, the Enron scandal lead to California’s rolling blackouts. 

As a result, as an environmental health and safety specialist, I began including information on handing power outages into company safety manuals.

Now, thanks to “Green Energy”, it looks like I am going to have to revamp those sections. Wayne Lusvardi of Cal Watchdog has the details:

At a special meeting of California energy companies and regulators held Feb. 26, Todd Strauss of Pacific Gas & Electric saw the possibility of state power blackouts emerging in 2013 to 2015.  The reason is that it has suddenly dawned on state power regulators that green power has resulted in a precarious lack of system flexibility in the state’s power grid.

Said Steve Berberich, the head of the California Independent System Operator, “The problem is we have a system now that needs flexibility, not capacity.”

The blackouts during the the California electricity crisis of 2000-01 were caused by a lack of sufficient energy capacity. But now, what experts at Feb. 26 meeting agreed is that any future state energy crisis likely will come from lack of system flexibility.  The diminishing flexibility is a result of the state’s 2011 mandate, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, that 33 percent of all energy must be from green power sources by 2020.

Lusvardi discusses what a loss of system flexibility means to California’s energy grid:

What flexibility means is the need for more power plants with the capability to ramp power up or down quickly to respond to vacillations in green power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. Coal power plants cannot typically respond fast enough to provide backup power. So this means that greater reliance on natural gas-fired power plants.

The future problem for California is that it does not have the right mix of types of power plants and new environmental regulations are forcing either closure or expensive upgrades to its coastal power plants that rely on ocean water for cooling steam generators.

And since the green-backed politicos in this state frown upon “brown energy”, solutions that enhance flexibility are unlikely to be implemented.

However, this is not the only area in which “green energy” has failed to perform. In his 5-part series on “California in Crisis“, Washington Examiner Senior Editorial Writer Conn Carrol notes that the green industry has been a jobs bust.

But all these new green energy programs must at least be creating thousands of new green jobs, right? Wrong. According to the best numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 2,500 green jobs have been created in California since 2010. Compare that with the more than 556,000 jobs that California has added in total since the recession ended in June 2009.

Here is a graphic that compares “Green” California with “Brown” Texas, which has aggressively removed obstacles to private-sector development of fossil fuel resources:

It looks like when it comes to power sources, California has chosen unwisely.

But, at least we have some excellent surf and a lot of sunshine, as it looks like we will be outdoors with no jobs to go to!!!


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1. Governor Jerry Brownout? The Brownout administration?

2. Enlightened Progressives™ know that when a situation like this arises, you solve the problem excise it from the language.

Brownout may become as banned from PC usage as illegal alien is. Look for the coming power outages to be referred to as greenouts. :mrgreen:

I think ‘greencrash’ should be the term used when the power-grid crashes. Use ‘green’ in a pejorative sense, and use the term ‘greenies’ for the people who demanded that the grid be this way.

This power-grid uncertainty is REALLY going to drive companies out-of-state – it’s incredibly expensive to build/maintain local power-generation. In the past, one could build battery banks, figuring that the local power outage might be a couple of hours. But what if there’s a major forest-fire (or a lot more cloud-cover than usual) for a couple of weeks, and the solar panels and windfarms can’t make power for those weeks? Batteries won’t work, so you have to have backup diesel generators, that are rated to run for weeks (which means you really need to plan on running them worst-case for a month).

That’s just a huge cost nightmare, and a regulatory headache – you need to periodically run those diesels to ensure they’ll work when you need them, which outputs pollution, so you have to deal with those regulations, etc…


“Green” is a euphemism for “doesn’t work.”

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Same Same. | March 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    “GREEN” is the new Obscene! Get yours today!

    How about “Green Greed” or “Green-mail” Same Same?

casualobserver | March 4, 2013 at 11:00 am

Not to get into the gory details, but the situation could be worse than it sounds. Already CA relies on being connected within a grid that shares power with a number of its western neighbors. What that means, is the residents of CA already have ‘access’, so to speak, to electricity generated outside its borders to a significant degree. And a measurable portion of that comes from hydropower thanks to Bonneville Power Administration’s mix. That’s important because those systems can be more flexible than most natural gas plant designs. So, even with access to a reasonably extensive and wide range of sources, the current path for CA still has greater risk.

Another way to say it, is that California’s strategy carries the risk it could need so much electricity at some rare points that it could potentially suck the western network dry.

My guess is the anti-fossil environmentalist care little about how much ratepayers are hit already, and are crying for various forms of energy storage, rate impact be damned. Storage doesn’t just mean batteries, as there are a number of alternatives tested using water pumping to later be used at a hydro-facility, compressed air storage, etc. But every example of storage essentially adds capital and maintenance costs without adding real capacity to the grid. End result? Power costs more.

    JayDick in reply to casualobserver. | March 4, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Does this mean the whole Western U.S. could see brownouts (or greencrashes) because of California’s foolishness?

      casualobserver in reply to JayDick. | March 4, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      Not necessarily. The regulating agencies that manage the grid follow some protocol to minimize the impact of power shortages. They are constantly looking ahead in short (15 minute) and long intervals, and will make decisions about who to ‘starve’, if it is absolutely necessary. Hopefully the ‘greedy’ in CA are the first to feel the impact, but I’m not exactly sure what the protocol is for the grid operators and utilities. It’s hard to imagine they would let, say, folks in Wyoming and Oregon suffer first for high CA demand, but you never know….

Gorebal Climate Thingy is dying. Oh, there WILL be true believers as long as there is the immense potential for power and money that the whole “Green Goo” hoax holds, pace Pres. Freakout.

But the people are turning away from it, and most of the world understands that wealthier is healthier.

I was caught with less than a quarter-tank of gasoline in my car when the massive blackout that darkened nearly all of So. Cal during the ‘Southwest Blackout of 2011’ occurred.

Gas Stations could not pump their gas. Gas Stations with working emergency back-up generators were nowhere to be found either. Not anywhere within a quarter-tank’s distance anyway.

I fill up the tank as soon as it hits half-a-tank each and every time now.

Everyone should.

It will come in handy if there’s an extended blackout for sure. Especially if you own and run a small gasoline powered household generator when needed.

There are a lot of reasons to make sure you have a stockpile of food, water, medical supplies, and other necessities in case of disaster or unforeseen abject failure by your government — be they local or federal.

Sudden blackouts is merely just one of a litany of reasons.

“Pray for the best, prepare for the worst, and expect the unexpected.” ~Gary Busey.

Sage advice, Buddy.

There are several problems with “green” technology. First, it is neither green in pre-manufacturing (i.e. resource recovery and processing) nor in actual use. Second, the current technology are low-density energy producers, which require large tracts of land in order to be profitable. Third, the current technology cannot be reasonable isolated from the environment, which means it is unreliable for principal energy production.

That said, current photovoltaic and wind turbine technology have their value, but only for niche energy production. They cannot be justified by their suitability to preserve the environment, prevent displacement of people (or animals), or claims to renewability (other than the drivers). The current debate is distorted by industry, activists, and politicians; and serves only their interests.

The Drill SGT | March 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Born and raised Northern Californian here, though I no longer live there. A few extra comments on the article:

1. CA doesn’t count hydto as ‘renewable’, hydro is now evil.
2. When reading renewable energy puff pieces, be very careful of the word, ‘capacity’. A solar or wind farm’s theoretical capacity, may be three times it’s average production and of course it’s mimimum production rate is zero, at night, or when the wind doesn’t blow.
3. so, if they plan on having enough ‘capacity’ using 30% renewables, they are some times are going to be 20-30% short.
4. So, they need to either have evil gas plants on stand-by to replace non-productive solar farms or have ‘premium priced’ rate agreements with out of state sources (using evil plants) to meet peak demand.
5. The whole base load, peak load thing is worth 10 inches 🙂
6. the good news is that in general, solar plant production aligns reasonably well with demand. e.g. peak demand is on hot summer days, etc. However, near peak demand can be after the sun goes down. whoopsee 🙂
7. Oh, and storing excess renewable energy, not easy.

Bottom line: They’re f’d

    casualobserver in reply to The Drill SGT. | March 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Just my view:
    1) I bet that viewpoint will change when at some point costs are unbearable. Hydropower was at one point seen as “non-polluting” and “green”. Returning to that view in a panic seems possible.
    2) Most renewable energy advocates admit that especially wind and solar have very unstable (therefore not planned) ‘capacity credit’. That means it is used as a pure energy source for the most part, and not included in future planning. When they produce, every bit of the output is used. One reason – in certain markets the managers of the wind/solar systems ‘bid’ zero ($0.00) to be lowest bidder and win for that time block. Their justification is those markets don’t buy at zero, but at the highest rate purchased during that block. So, if a wind farm ‘bids’ zero and a natural gas plant bids and wins at, say $0.04, the wind farm operator is paid at $0.04. Some see that as highly contrived….
    3) Almost all operators and utilities don’t include much of a renewable system’s capacity in planning – some may use only 20% of the total. You can do the math on 20% of 33%. It’s not clear how CA will be forced (regulated) to include renewables to me, although I bet it is already specified.
    4) Exactly the point. Reserves (often called spinning reserves) are needed.
    5) Eh?
    6) Experience shows wind and solar are not well correlated to peaks in most every region. Desert area? Yeah, solar may be better tied to peak. However, peak AC often carries into dusk, where PV drops off sharply. Just making a point, not arguing.
    7) It’s not cheap. In a way if cost is ignored, it is relatively easy. But there is the rub with most of the top down push for renewable.

    Do you hear much about geothermal systems in CA? I wonder, because that is one way to appease some ‘greens’ and still solve some of the capacity issues. Again, you have to overlook costs. But then, ……….

      The Drill SGT in reply to casualobserver. | March 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      6. We were making the same points. Most of SoCal is desert, absent Owens river water. and yes, peak load may be after sunset, so brown-out time,

      7. The best ‘industrial strength’ energy storage is pumping water up into those evil hydro lakes 🙂

      PS: Let’s not start on the Delta smelt saga.

      PPS: If only Jerry Brown had the infrastructure sense of his father Pat Brown 🙂

First let me get this out of the way ….ITS BUSH’S FAULT …. now the liberal solution …QUICK THROW MORE MONEY AT IT

Subotai Bahadur | March 4, 2013 at 1:08 pm

FlatFoot | March 4, 2013 at 11:42 am
There are a lot of reasons to make sure you have a stockpile of food, water, medical supplies, and other necessities in case of disaster or unforeseen abject failure by your government — be they local or federal.

Sudden blackouts is merely just one of a litany of reasons.

“Pray for the best, prepare for the worst, and expect the unexpected.” ~Gary Busey.

You do realize that by making that eminently commonsense statement in a public forum, you are now defined by the Department of Homeland Security [same DHS that uses “No Hesitation™” targets depicting American civilians for training and just ordered 2700 Mine Resistant Armor Protected vehicles as used by our forces in the Middle East] as a “Potential Terrorist”. 🙂

If you can conceive of a chance that more government is not the infallible solution to any problem, “your lack of faith is disturbing” to those in power.

The State is our shepherd, we shall not want.

Subotai Bahadur

    casualobserver in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | March 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Hey, according to Robert Reich that belief actually means you want to undermine the government in total. You anarchist, you. (joke) So, to many progressives, it is binary. Either you are ‘with it’ or ‘against it’. And they seem to define ‘with it’ as a total absence of criticism.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | March 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    “More On” Government coming soon!

    (Say that really fast 10 times.)

    Oh nevermind, they’re here!

legalizehazing | March 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

This pairs perfectly with the E Warren & China article. Hey as far as central controlling goes I’d give them an A+…. Unfortunately, despite that it sounds pretty bad.

Nothing is coming easy these days. Cost of energy going up, food up, housing up. The best laid plans all too frequently fail and it seems California has more has more big faults than those found out near san andreas! Hoping for the best always…

It’s all good, we’re all up the creek without a paddle. I’ve already starting reducing my use of energy by using my outdoor oven! Did someone say green? oh yes we’re burning wood in the oven from tress on the property!

To be fair, much of this “green” trend is not purely California’s making. Kind of like a lot of local decisions are not really made locally (I might write a post about it if time allows). It’s not that California decided to have green energy and paid for it. Uncle Sam fueled much of the green “boom”. And sure, Californians are just the kind of people who would try out things like green energy, except we are not really paying the bill. A lot of it wouldn’t be happening if not for Barack Hussein Obama.

[…] California’s “Green Energy” Completely Fails to Power State […]

All day and all night, rain or shine, renewable energy is a reliable way to keep the lights on in the 21st century.

    jhkrischel in reply to cbiggins. | March 5, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Ah, a astroturfer from realitydrop 🙂

    Tell me, how much solar energy can you get during a thunderstorm? 🙂

      cbiggins in reply to jhkrischel. | March 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      Tell me, what percentage of the weather do thunderstorms occupy?
      Lets presume (a rather exaggerated) 25%?

      Which leaves 75% of the time to feed back into the grid.

      Was that really your only argument?

      Did you actually click the link? Or are you one of these sceptics that refuse to actually research possibile alternatives?