Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
“Between wind and water: (Nautical) In that part of a ship’s side or bottom which is frequently brought above water by the rolling of the ship, or fluctuation of the water’s surface. Hence, colloquially, (as an injury to that part of a vessel, in an engagement, is particularly dangerous) the vulnerable part or point of anything.”
Forcing people to buy expensive renewable energy seems like a really bad plan to me. But that’s what California is doing. It used to be capped at 20%, but the new law is that we’ll have to get 33% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. But that’s not bad enough. Here’s the goofy part, the part that makes it uniquely Californian, that marks it as being from the famous “Granola State”, home of nuts and flakes …
Because of the regulations requiring California to use renewable energy, it won’t be able to use all its renewable energy, and will have to throw part of the energy away.
I must confess to a great fondness for the law of unintended consequences. It involves us in situations of delicious irony all the time. You see, here in California, in order to be “renewable”, it’s not enough that power be hydroelectric. This is California, and we require better green credentials than the fact that hydroelectric is renewable to declare it “renewable”. You might think I’m kidding. Unfortunately, I’m not. Here is the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) report for the energy mix on Monday the 11th of April 2011:
Under the law requiring 33% renewables, any large-scale hydroelectric plant is not considered “renewable”. What the law calls “renewables” were about 15% of the total in 2009, and hydroelectricity was about 20%. So in fact, in California we are already getting 33% of our power from renewable sources … but that’s not good enough for the nuts and flakes, who could have guessed? Under the goofball definition in the law, most of our renewable energy doesn’t count as renewable energy. Figure 2 shows what’s included in the California so-called “Renewables” mix:
So from the bottom up we have geothermal, biomass, biogas, small hydroelectric, wind, and solar … but no regular old, boring, and definitely renewable hydroelectric power.
Here’s one of the problems with this nonsense, from the Seattle Times :
Wind-power producers fight possible shutdown of turbines
PORTLAND — Pacific Northwest wind-power producers are battling a proposal that could force them to periodically shut down their plants in the months ahead, potentially costing them millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) officials say that limiting wind production could be required to free up space in the regional transmission system to handle hydropower generated from the melt-off of a huge mountain snowpack this year.
“We’re looking at doing everything we can to avoid the shutdowns but you have to be able to do something when your back is against the wall,” said Doug Johnson, a BPA spokesman.
… The BPA manages the regional power-supply system by balancing, minute by minute, the flow of electricity surging through the system with demand.
As the wind industry expands, the BPA has found it more difficult to transmit all that power and still meet other responsibilities, which include selling hydro power outside the region and spilling water over dams to aid the passage of migrating salmon.
Last June, the BPA balancing effort turned into a high-wire act as a late snow melt unleashed a gusher of water down the Columbia River at the same time that winds whipped up the power turbines.
BPA officials said that they couldn’t divert all the water around the hydroelectric turbines without putting too much dissolved gas into the river and placing salmon at risk. So they ended up running more water through the dam turbines and giving away their surplus power to utilities all over the West.
That spurred the agency to develop a new proposal to periodically shut down wind-power farms to help balance loads. The plan was embraced by public utilities across the region.
Why does this matter to consumers in California like myself? Because like idiots, we’re contracted to use the windpower despite the high costs of both production and transmission (emphasis mine) …
The dispute reflects major strains on the regional power system, which has been reshaped by a dramatic expansion of wind power in Washington and Oregon. Most of that power is exported to California and other markets outside the Northwest.
Of course, since regional planners all bought into the “we’ll never ever see winter again” mantra sold by the AGW alarmists, nobody was planning for a winter like this one. There was 61 feet of snow at some points in the Sierras, the reservoirs are full and over, we’re going to have more than enough water to generate plenty of power.
But none of that waterpower, not a drop, counts towards the California 33% renewables quota. So despite having already reached the 2020 goal of 33% renewables, here we are “between wind and water”. The utilities will all have to buy expensive wind power in preference to cheap water power … and then we can’t just release the water because it’s low in oxygen and will harm the fish, so then we’ll have to generate the power anyway and give the power away … that’s hell of a resource-management and conservation plan there, guys. Gotta love California.