Wind power not coming through for California – power alert issued by the CAISO

I called the media support line for this press release issues today, to ask a couple of questions, here are the answers:

1. Q: Besides the heat wave, what other factors are contributing? A: “A Natural Gas plant of 775 megawatts went offline last night. The San Onofre nuclear plant remains offline with no restart scheduled.”

2. Q: Where is wind power in all of this, is it performing? A: “Well as you know, wind has to blow for wind power to be effective. ”

The graph from CAISO tells the story, wind power has tumbled when it is most needed:

Of course, renewables are a drop in the bucket compared to the total demand seen here.

California ISO Declares Flex-Alert Statewide

With a major heat wave bearing down on California, the ISO is declaring a Flex Alert tomorrow through August 12.

Consumers are urged to reduce their energy use during the afternoon when air conditioners drive consumption. Find Flex Alert tips at

Electricity conservation today, August 9, would also be helpful during the afternoon peak between 11:00 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Today’s Forecast peak demand: 47,125 megawatts

24-Hour Ahead Outlook for Friday, Aug 10: Flex Alert

High temperatures are forecast statewide. Energy demand is expected to be high and consumers are urged to reduce energy usage between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Forecast peak demand: 46,800 megawatts

48-Hour Ahead Outlook for Saturday, Aug 11: Flex Alert

The heat wave continues through the weekend. The California ISO is urging reduced energy usage between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday

Forecast peak demand: 43,000 megawatt

72-Hour Ahead Outlook for Sunday, Aug 12: Flex Alert

Temperatures will continue to be hot. Conservation is helpful between noon – 6 p.m.

Forecast peak demand: 43,000 megawatt

Go to and click “Notify me” to sign up for Flex Alerts and other updates. Follow real time grid conditions at


Welcome to the third world.  h/t to Roger Sowell.



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It’s all the fault of those one-percenters at Enron.
I wonder what the greenies will do when instability in the grid results in hundreds of thousands buying home generators.


Great energy policy planning by California. Clearly what they need is more windmills.


Commiefornia to peasants: “Were reducing the amount of power your going to have and will continue to reduce it… for you anyway.”
Peasants: “We’ll just use the same amount and if it breaks its commiefornia’s fault.”
Commiefornia to peasants: “O you will use less power and those that don’t… well we know who you are and you WILL BE punished…. and don’t even bother asking that we install more power this is your fault peasants now you must pay your fair share.”

Doug Jones

Wind here in Mojave is about 10 knots, temp 40.8 C (105 F). But with dewpoint of 7 C, at least it’s a dry heat…

Craig Moore

There is a large wind farm between Shelby and Cut Bank Montana. That power is sold to San Diego. The blades are turning as I write.

David A. Evans

Patrick says:
August 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm

It’s all the fault of those one-percenters at Enron.
I wonder what the greenies will do when instability in the grid results in hundreds of thousands buying home generators.

Perhaps it’s the home generator manufacturers behind it all!



Ally E.

This should encourage quite a few in the “undecided” bracket to give a thumbs down to Green policy – I hope!


California obviously didn’t do their homework on how this has already happened in Denmark with wind power.

Matthew R Marler

Good post. As every one here knows, I support alternatives to fossil fuels for the long term. I have been sharing the recent CAISO web pages with some of my even more boosterish friends as displaying the evidence that California can not achieve its Renewable Portfolio Standard on the schedule required by AB32, at least not without a dramatic reduction in GDP.
The graphs clearly display a fact that some one here addressed my attention to as a fatal flaw in solar power: solar power production starts to fall off while electricity consumption is still rising toward its peak. For a lot of purposes, such as irrigating crops and air conditioning homes and supermarkets, that is not a fatal flaw, though it is a flaw for many other purposes.

Matthew R Marler

Another detail is clearly presented in the full graph: peak use was less than the day-ahead peak forecast use; most likely that is because people responded to the Flex Alert, and most likely that represented businesses reducing their work or closing early. Businesses enjoy a lower rate if they agree in advance to shut down when asked to do so by CAISO. To some degree, Californians sacrifice their commercial output to maintain their comfy homes and spas, though that may be changing with demand-weighted billing.


Simply amassing. The “Planning Commission” in San Diego just denied a natural gas peak power plant next to a garbage dump next to all existing power lines and the next week approved a development for 1,000 housing units which equals 2 to 3 thousand more people all within a 5 mile area. There is no plan!

Matthew R Marler

Last note: peak demand was about 44,000 megawatts. At peak demand, the renewables were generating 2900 megawatts, or about 6.6%. Ignore the imaginary claim of precision in the first decimal, the key here being “about”. When wind power peaks and demand bottoms, the contribution of renewables is around 12%. So California is about 1/3 of the way toward the goal of 30% by 2020. Hopefully, we’ll have another chance, before its too late, to repeal AB32.

I believe it was last year when Texas had a period of heat occasioned by a stationary high.
Stationary highs mean no wind – their windmills were operating at around 5 to 10% of their normal output levels, which is roughly 25 to 30% of nameplate capacity. Note that when a new solar or windfarm is inaugurated, it is always characterized by its nameplate capacity, a totally misleading
number – a solar farm with a nameplate capacity of 570MW, is about the equivalent of an SMR
of roughly 180 MWe. By the way, a survey of 30 studies of carbon emissions per GWhr of power produced, from govts, universities and think tanks around the world, showed solar to produce more than twice as much CO2 emissions as nuclear and almost half as much as natural gas.


A timely post I see, I can now take this out of Tips and Notes and onto this thread. Aug 6, 2012
“Recouping cost of wind turbine may take more than a lifetime
At the rate the WT6500 is delivering power at our test site, it would take several millennia for the product to pay for itself in savings—not the 56 years it would take even with the 1,155 kWh quote we received.”>
H/t Climate Depot and Bishop Hill.

A few winters back Scotland’s windpower failed when it was needed most. They were forced to buy in filthy, dangerous, toxic nuclear energy from France.

Matthew R Marler

cwoop: They do about 52,000 megawatts in Oregon and Washington. Most of it goes to California.
Can it really be most? The CAISO does not show that much.


Simple part solution, turn off all of those airconditioners in the government bureaucracy … let them show solidarity and sweat it out with the common man.


David A. Evans says:
August 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Enron Wind is now GE Ecomagination. Still worse than useless for us, but great for government propaganda and scoring brownie points for GE with Obama’s Administration.


24 hours in Ca.
Three stable renewable-power sources; Geothermal, Small Hydro and Biomass producing a total power of circa 1500 Mw.
Two fluctuating power-technologies (wind and solar) that together cumulatively produce a maximum of 1900 Mw at 1 a.m. to a minimum of roughly 6-700 Mw at 8 am.
Let’s call that 1500 + (1900+700)/2 Mw average capacity -> 2800 Mw ranging from 3400 Mw to 2200 Mw throughout the course of a day (+/- 21% of mean).
That’s a pretty wide range to keep on top of but, luckily, using Anthony’s link to CAISO this is a small fraction of ‘current’ demand of roughly 36000 Mw with a capacity of 50000 Mw at hand comprising some 47000 Mw of non-renewable power ( 94% ).
If we take the used capacity as non-renewables/ total demand as (36000-2800)/36000 we still get a creditable 92% as coming from ‘non-green approved’ sources.
This is all good news, so far, for Ca residents and manufacturers alike but there’s bad news looming.
Double the amount of wind and solar, reduce current stable-baseload generators to comply with new green-regulations and we get an increasing double-whammy that not only boosts the price of energy for producers and consumers but makes it less reliable!
To get to the demented targets of some e.g. 80% via renewables (wind, solar but very little else) does not require a doubling from the current 5-6% or so but a redouble to 10-12%, followed by a further redouble to 20-25% and then with reckless abandon to an ‘all-in’, shirt-betting scenario.
Madness. Total madness. Verily, the lunatics are now clad in white coats!!!!

Let them eat cake.


When we lived in South Australia, with its California-like mediterranean climate, we didn’t have A/C, nor did most people. Since the ferociously hot weather almost always coincided with low humidity, everyone used fans; in extreme cases they’d sleep downstairs temporarily.

This entire effort is such a fraud. One has to wonder if any consideration was given to the power supply that has to be supplied in order to save lives aka hospitals, surgeries, old age homes, refrigeration on a massive scale etc. It was refrigeration that allowed us all to have food when needed and stored safely, as we all already know.
Their insane efforts to try and effect the weather with this is akin to blowing in a storm, it is way past ludicrous and meanwhile, people will die, just so they can feel good about themselves. They have chosen to follow a religion that is based on misinformation and downright lies. It truly is incomprehensible.

John another

Please show the base load capacity and daily output (coal and natural gas) that covers their rears every 24 hour cycle. In graph form; more please and thank you.

Brian H

Doesn’t CA’s solar power run on Moonbeams?


In the olden days they stalled nuclear and banned coal plants. In more civilized modern times they delayed and and stalled most solar farm projects. And in the new normal they blame heat waves on global warming while funding studies of rising sea level. Not to worry, they have now turned attention to stalling housing developments and forcing the population into small stacked units where permitted of course. They might want to go look for hidden power supplies to go with their hidden park funds.

Wind is doing a number on the UK too.
As I write this , .044GW of 23.57GW demand.

William McClenney

Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right that an intelligence test, an Intelligence Test mind you, should ever be this simplistic. California leads the nation, and the nation leads the world, even in reverse evolution!!!!
But just last Friday we have this from Energy and Environment:
Majority of Californians have heard nothing about cap and trade — poll
Debra Kahn, E&E reporter
Published: Friday, August 3, 2012
Among policy experts, California’s economywide cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases has been a topic of heated debate for years. But that focus has not carried over to voters, as evidenced by a new statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they had not heard anything about the system, set to start next year, with an initial auction of carbon allowances this November.
Once informed, 53 percent of total respondents were in support of the system, with 36 percent opposing it and 11 percent unsure.
Cap and trade proved less popular among the cognoscenti. Of the 12 percent who said they had already heard a lot about it, 62 percent opposed it. Republicans considered themselves significantly more informed; 90 percent of Democrats had heard little or nothing at all, compared to 75 percent of Republicans.
Two-thirds of respondents said they had very little or no confidence that state government would spend the proceeds from cap and trade — estimated at $1 billion in the first year — wisely. Another point of contention was the plan’s potential to increase pollution in low-income areas where high-emitting facilities are located. Forty-eight percent said they thought cap and trade would cause disproportionate pollution in low-income communities, with 40 percent disagreeing.
Political support, but little understanding
But nearly three-fourths of respondents — 71 percent — supported the overarching 2006 law that set a goal of 1990 emissions levels by 2020. That law, A.B. 32, was the subject of a 2010 ballot initiative that sought to overturn it; it failed, 62-38.
Talk about anthropology! Knowing a population has reversed evolution is one thing, but not even being aware of it? Priceless!

Reblogged this on Is it 2012 in Nevada County Yet? and commented:
I have written about this many times. Wind power is expensive and is not available when needed the most. There is too much when not need and not enough when needed. Here is an example.


Stationary highs produce the hottest, most prolonged temperatures in the summer and the coldest, most prolonged temperatures in the winter.
In neither does wind coincide–the movers and shakers behind wind energy can’t seem to recognize reality.

Peter Colthorpe

Here is a story that may help explain why we need to wind back renewable power projects, in particular the use of wind powered turbines. I believe that there are many good engineering and economic reasons why wind turbines will not achieve the aim of reducing greenhouse gases or cheap power. However there is a more pressing story based on history in which the entire industry can be used as an example of the folly of wind power. In the 1800s, the entire merchant fleets of the world were wind powered and in both naval and civil uses wind technology had reached its zenith in terms of efficient use of the wind. In 1805 the Royal Navy had defeated Spain and France at Trafalgar, in the years that followed the sea became essentially peaceful and great efforts were put into making it merchant fleet faster and more effective. Weapons were removed from many merchant ships as with the exception of a few pockets of piracy the sea was effectively governed by the Royal Navy. This led to ships like the Cutty Sark which was a clipper ship characterised by carrying up to 4 masts of sail which allowed these ships to reach speeds of more than 17 knots. They sailed between England and Australia and reduced the sailing time by months. The fuel costs was near zero, they could stay at sea for months only limited by their food supply and the crews represented the pinnacle of skill based on hundreds of years of experience. Yet with all these obvious advantages of new fledgling steam powered ships, fuelled by coal with unreliable machinery were able over a course of less than 50 years to completely replace the wind powered ships in all but back water trade routes and recreational boating. When you look at what that meant you see the huge change and indeed the huge costs that needed to be absorbed to achieve this change, you could wonder why it happened at all. In terms of cost this change required coaling stations to be built along all routes that the ships would use. Coal is a bulky fuel and the ships range was limited by the amount of coal it could carry. If you take the Australia England route it required about eight stations to be established and indeed in the early part the coal itself needed to be transported to the stations often from the Welsh coal mines or mines of New South Wales. Yet despite the steamships having dirty exhausts, needing totally new skills to operate, having much less range compared to the sailing ships and indeed with all the teething problems of the new designs they succeeded. The reason that all these costs and obvious disadvantages did not stifle the change was because wind is inherently unreliable and the steamship halved once again the sailing time and as oil replaced coal as the fuel source the sailing time was reduced by a further 50%. In simple terms wind energy could move the ship 12,000 miles in three months, fossil fuel moves a ship the same distance in one month or less. If we convert that into today’s challenge then we need between three and four times the generating capacity when driven by wind over that powered by fossil fuels. This is a lesson from history devoid of all the technical details and I hope it will help explain why wind power is never going to be an effective and cost efficient power source. 


The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) obtains 52% of its electricity from coal-fired plants in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. So California gets the power while these other western states get the pollution. It seems like a sweet deal but it’s not good enough for them. They have vowed to go coal-free by 2020. I’m curious to see how that works out over the next 8 years.

Anne Knecht

I wonder what the Mexicans, etc. think of this state? Any global warming scientists available to help out with this crisis from Guatemala, El Salvador? Perhaps Honduras has a couple of wind turbine experts who know how to tweak them for maximum output? Does East LA have a couple of Electrical Engineers who can “in a pinch” figure out how to store some of that FREE solar current to use at night? sarc/off

Alan Watt, CD (Certified Denialist), Level 7

The Reuters article is skimpy on obviously useful facts.
The San Onofre nuclear plant is given as 2,150 MW and will be offline “at least through the end of the summer”. Question: is the time required to actually fix the problem, or just regulatory process delay? Inquiring minds want to know.
The 775 MW gas plant went offline “suddenly”. Question: is there an initial status on what the problem is there and how long that might take to correct?
In other words, the story is long on panic and short on what any rational person would want to know to actually manage the situation.
Perhaps Gov. Brown could talk with Senator Harry Reid and get him to tone down demands to shut down the Reid Gardner coal power plant in Moapa Nevada. Sounds like Californians would be happy to take that dirty power off his hands. Maybe Gov. Brown could offer some of those valuable California carbon credits to sweeten the deal.

Alan Watt, CD (Certified Denialist), Level 7

dearieme says:
August 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

When we lived in South Australia, with its California-like mediterranean climate, we didn’t have A/C, nor did most people. Since the ferociously hot weather almost always coincided with low humidity, everyone used fans; in extreme cases they’d sleep downstairs temporarily.

Yes. Hydrate and stay in the shade has worked for centuries. When that isn’t enough, get in the pool. Back in the day not only did people survive without air conditioning, men wore coats & ties and women wore dresses, stockings, hats and white gloves to go out in public. Often “going out in public” in the summer meant going to a movie theater which had air conditioning.
In cities like New York in the summer when it got too hot to sleep inside people would take their mattresses out on the fire escapes of apartment buildings and sleep outside. People with better living quarters had screened in sleeping poarches.
Those good old days may be making a comeback, courtesy of green power mandates. Don’t forget to stock up on cologne and perfume.

Resourceguy says:
August 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm
“…forcing the population into small stacked units where permitted of course…”
People in the USA are waking up to this goal of UN Agenda 21 and ICLEI (implemented locally). Especially in the San Francisco area thanks to the work of Rose Koire, the eminent domain expert. I think her best presentation is:

A little long but entertaining & informative, especially in the beginning…

What percent of the state’s power is from “renewables”?

Paul Westhaver

wind power… the inverse of power…..
wind power… anti power
wind power,.. exactly when you don’t need it.
wind power… giga watts of stupid


You can have a reliable electricity supply or you can have a green electricity supply… but you can’t have both.

And having electric cars would help how, exactly?

Alex Heyworth

They should just set up a few turbines in the state legislature. Plenty of wind there.

Lady Life Grows

… renewables are a drop in the bucket compared to the total demand…”
One of these days you are going to GET IT: the low-quality power sources this term refers to use scarce rare earths and other things that are not renewable. The term is a misnomer.
More cogently, fossil fuels release carbon dioxide, which can generate biofuel or wood plus food renewably forevermore. These are the true renewable fuels and I call them superrenewable, because they only become renewable once you burn them. You have to eat this cake in order to have it, too.
And I challenge everybody to find one blasted life form that does not rely on the biochemical reduction.of carbon dioxide as the foundation of its existence. No matter how ignorant SCOTUS is, no matter how loudly Hansen and The Team and others scream, they cannot meet that challenge.. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; it is the foundation of Life. Fossil fuels–and ONLY fossil fuels–increase the carrying capacity of the Earth.

In the category of “that’s another fine mess you’ve got us into Ollie” my local electric power delivery entity has evidently incorrectly ‘provisioned’ (maybe in their database or perhaps in the not-so-Smart meter proper) the ZigBee Landis+Gyr meter’s “Gridstream RF” 2-way data radio ‘monitoring’ my electric usage … the bill, as delivered (electronically via e-mail), is about twice that expected whereas the actual accrued reading displaying cyclically on the physical meter is today what it should be given nominal daily use as the analog meter *used to* indicate.
Long story short, my bill was prepared using billing data obtained from a meter not-mine but probably close-by and possibly next door … all this YET to be straightened out with the electric ‘retailer’ and the electric delivery entity (ONCOR for me) who actually own/services the meter and lines … (I have verified so far the meter number shown on the meter *is* assigned correctly to this property via the retailer and ONCOR, but obviously the ‘data’ belongs to some other meter somewhere else.)
Meanwhile “Service Disconnects” directed to me wirelessly (and remotely) for non-payment of my bill would result in ‘Lights out’ for someone totally unawares of the situation, hence, “That’s another fine mess you’ve got us into Ollie.”

John F. Hultquist

I can see a demand for cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, a sheet of glass, and a pot. These should be mandatory in CA.


Wind is back up now. Sure this is not at least partially the normal daily wind fluctuation from landward to seaward?
REPLY: Yes, but the point is that during peak loads, during the day, the times they ask us to do electricity conservation…wind isn’t performing in this sort of heat wave weather pattern. – Anthony


Matthew R Marler says: August 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm
[ As every one here knows, I support alternatives to fossil fuels for the long term]
Fossil Fuel?
Neptune: Trillions of tons of Methane and no Fossils.
Uranus: Trillions of tons of Methane and no Fossils.
Saturn: Trillions of tons of Methane and no Fossils.
Jupiter: Trillions of tons of Methane and no Fossils.


The power that goes to California is on the intertie. That comes from hydro on the Columbia river. The expensive wind stuff at places like Kittitas? We get to keep that. And pay for it, of course. Amd that is because the intertie does not suffer the variability of wind power well.
Washington is removing dams and replacing them with dreams of a green future. Nukes are out thanks to the Whoops fiasco, and wind is wind. It replaces nothing, is unreliable, and is renewable so long as you are committed to replacing burned out windmills. Hydro in Washington is not considered renewable because it depends on intermittent rainfall and God knows the rain in this state could stop at any time (and please, God, let it happen. Just for a day!).
It turns out replacing burned out windmills is not so popular as siting new wind mills near the burned out carcases. These new wind mill farms are springing up around the world but typically near where dead mills rot in the still air because that is where the wind blows. And so the dead farms expand. The dead mills are so prevalent you can google dead windmills and get hours of entertainment. Here is why tracking dead wind mills is important. The proponents of wind, we call them “Big Wind”, claim land use efficiencies of x mills/acre or X megawatts/acre. They conveniently ignore the growing acreage of dead mills when doing the numbers. Take a drive from Oakland, CA to Livermore and look at the idle machinery. And if you have time, look at the idle birds of prey since we’re talking about carcases.
If you have rural acreage and Big Wind promises you the world if you let them consume your wind, be sure to check the fine print regarding who carts away the dead bodies when these majestic monoliths give up their last joule on your back 40.

Alan Watt, CD (Certified Denialist), Level 7

Peter Colthorpe says:
August 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm
[ long discussion on the ascendancy of steam over sail for ocean transport ]
I’ve made this point many times about the energy density of wind: it simply isn’t there. If it was we would still be moving passengers and cargo by sail. Peter covers some of the reasons why we are not.
There are other factors besides speed which favored steam over sail. With wooden keels and planks the absolute size limit for an ocean vessel is about 100 meters and only a very few wooden ship were built to that size. Even 80 meters was very large for a wooden ship. A wooden keel any larger simply has too much flex and opens seams in the planking. Keep in mind this is at the end of many centuries of development in wooden hulls.
When coal replaced charcoal as the fuel used to smelt iron starting in the mid 18th century, iron production quickly grew to previously unattainable levels with a consequent reduction in cost. Instead of just fittings and bracings, there was enough iron to use as major structural members, and eventually the manufacture of iron plate advanced enough that the entire hull could be iron, riveted onto iron ribs attached to an iron keel.
That made possible vastly larger ships. And the vastly greater internal volume in turn provided sufficient coal storage to make transatlantic crossings solely under steam power. And a good thing because these early iron steamships also had conventional masts and sail “just in case”. It was quickly discovered that sail power simply did not scale up to the now possible size of iron hulls; it was either make steam or drift.
Take for example three ships designed by the great engineer Isambard Brunel:
The Great Western was launched in 1838 at a length of 72 meters with an iron strapped oak hull. She was the first vessel to cross the Atlantic solely under steam (paddle wheels). The iron-hulled Great Britain was launched in 1843; at 98 meters she was the largest vessel afloat at the time and incorporated a screw propeller. While “only” 35% larger in length, the Great Britain was nearly three times the tonnage of the earlier ship. Just 15 years later (1858) Brunel’s final ship the Great Eastern was launched at 211 meters, having both paddle wheels and a screw propeller (largest single-screw ever built). So in a span of just 20 years hull lengths tripled and gross tonnage increased 24-fold, made possible by the vastly greater strength of now plentiful iron and absolutely dependent on steam for propulsion.
Coal, iron and steam made the industrial age possible, and we wouldn’t have one without the other two. We have better fuels, metals and thermodynamic engines now, but we owe it all to those three.
And in the modern age to which coal, iron and steam have delivered us, electricity makes most everything possible. If we want to keep our technical civilization going and enjoy its many benefits, we had better ensure that electricity is plentiful, reliable and affordable, even if we have to burn coal to do it.
California is not setting a good example.

Why is this called a “Flex Alert” and not a power shortage? Is that because Californians will have to Flex when tons of refrigerated food is needlessly endangered? Is it called a Flex when the government has mismanaged the power so badly that there are needless risk of heat strokes to the most vulnerable (babies, the sick) in mid-August?
Look, if this is this state’s idea of a Flex, then obviously, what they mean by the need for a “Smart Grid” is to make sure that the Smart class has uninterrupted electrical energy while others Flex.


To paraphrase the Doors ..
The West is not the best … its going backwards.

Kum Dollison

It looks like California needs more Solar.