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California Once Again Tops the U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index… But Falls a Penny Short of the Highest Electricity Prices in the Lower 48

Guest post by David Middleton

The featured image is a photo of a greenschist from the French Alps.

For some reason, the following article from EcoWatch and the NRDC made me think of something that sounds like greenschist:

Top 10 States Leading the Renewable Energy Revolution

 By Ralph Cavanagh

California continues to lead the way on clean energy, but energy efficiency and renewables are gaining major ground across the country, a new ranking of states and cities shows. Six states now get at least a fifth of their power from non-hydro renewable sources such as wind and solar—further confirmation that regardless of the Trump administration’s efforts to promote fossil-fuel interests, clean energy is making undeniable inroads.

The Golden State and Massachusetts lead the eighth annual U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index from the research firm Clean Edge for a fifth year in a row, the latter bolstered by its strong record of energy efficiency and private investment in clean tech. Vermont, Oregon and New York round out the top five.

[…]

EcoWatch

I just couldn’t resist comparing electricity prices to the “Clean Tech Leadership Index” (CTLI) and I was not disappointed.  Six of the ten States with the most expensive electricity are in the CTLI top ten.

 CTLI Rank Residential ¢/kWh Rank
Hawaii     55.5 10 29.04 1
Alaska     17.6 21.58 2
Connecticut     58.7 6 20.06 3
Massachusetts     77.8 2 19.84 4
New Hampshire     44.6 18.98 5
California     92.0 1 18.87 6
Rhode Island     51.3 18.01 7
Vermont     72.2 3 17.39 8
New York     63.6 5 17.02 9
Maine     45.5 15.92 10
New Jersey     44.7 15.57 11
Michigan     50.1 15.38 12
Wisconsin     34.5 14.51 13
Maryland     46.9 14.16 14
Pennsylvania     42.2 14.08 15
Delaware     43.3 13.86 16
Illinois     55.3 13.76 17
Kansas     16.9 13.3 18
Alabama     18.1 12.82 19
New Mexico     48.1 12.76 20
South Carolina     28.6 12.64 21
Minnesota     55.9 9 12.58 22
Ohio     35.0 12.35 23
Nevada     36.9 12.13 24
Indiana     24.6 11.99 25
Colorado     58.4 7 11.89 26
Florida     20.7 11.76 27
Arizona     32.8 11.73 28
Georgia     25.6 11.73 29
Iowa     36.1 11.65 30
Mississippi     12.1 11.53 31
West Virginia     14.5 11.52 32
Virginia     35.9 11.46 33
Texas     40.2 11.31 34
South Dakota     21.7 11.11 35
North Carolina     36.5 11 36
Wyoming     13.6 10.91 37
Utah     38.9 10.74 38
Montana     29.0 10.74 39
Tennessee     25.5 10.63 40
Oklahoma     21.8 10.54 41
Nebraska     17.0 10.52 42
Oregon     69.6 4 10.51 43
Kentucky     22.2 10.48 44
Missouri     28.6 10.43 45
Idaho     36.6 9.92 46
Arkansas     23.5 9.85 47
North Dakota       8.0 9.56 48
Louisiana     14.1 9.46 49
Washington     57.4 8 9.28 50

Oregon and Washington benefit from massive hydroelectric resources, while Hawaii and Alaska have expensive electricity due to their remoteness.  So, I cross-plotted electricity prices vs. CTLI for all 50 States and 46 States (deleting AK, HI, OR & WA).

Elec_CTLI

References

[1] 2017 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index

[2] US EIA Table 5.6.A. Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State, March 2017 and 2016 (Cents per Kilowatthour)

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232 thoughts on “California Once Again Tops the U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index… But Falls a Penny Short of the Highest Electricity Prices in the Lower 48

  1. “Regardless of the Trump administration’s efforts to promote fossil-fuel interests, clean energy is making undeniable inroads.” Undeniable. In just 120 days. Congratulations.

      • Fort the record, my hydro bill used to be $80 and this time it is $215.

        That’s Wynnesanity!

      • California’s Governor Moonbeam Plays President, Signs Climate Deal With China

        California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new climate change agreement between the State of California and the People’s Republic of China on Tuesday.

        “””””””””The Associated Press reports, however, that the agreement does not bind either China or California to specific greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.”””””””””””” /snark

        http://www.breitbart.com/california/2017/06/07/jerry-brown-plays-president-signs-climate-deal-china/

      • Moonbrown has already decreed that California is to become 100% electric (vehicles) and 100 renewable electricity. I actually attended a University of California Solar Seminar where the lootenant governor asserted in so many words, that this is the mandate, in his keynote speech.
        A second State Employee speaker (I have his name somewhere) described some of the projects they are undertaking, with taxpayer money to achieve the 100% renewable electricity.

        Of course solar energy businesses were heavily represented in the audience. It’s an annual symposium that I’m invited to each year, sponsored primarily by UC MERCED, which is more accurately UC Atwater. It is part of the UC Merced, but they have this Country Club play pen, in Atwater on an old B52 airbase, run by Professor Roland Winston and his associates. They ARE actually researching and doing practical solar energy projects for small remote villages and such in undeveloped places where wires don’t run. Winston would choke if asked to bless Ivanpah or Tonopah. He’s a leading expert on non imaging optics; practically invented the whole discipline himself. So he really know how to collect solar energy, and Ivanpah is NOT it.

        G

      • Here is how ya make money off the rich people by providing them “solar generated power” via the grid they are connected to.

        Texas bets big on solar energy as massive grid powers up

        El Paso Electric customers now have access to the largest community solar grid in the state of Texas. The three-megawatt facility has 33 thousand solar panels in a 21-acre facility next to El Paso Electric’s (EPE) natural gas power plant. The community solar pilot program is subscriber based and is currently maxed out at 1,500 customers

        The price per kilowatt is fixed at $20.96.

        Read more @ http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/06/06/texas-bets-big-on-solar-energy-as-massive-grid-powers-up.html

      • Here is how ya make money off the rich folks by providing them “solar generated power” via the grid they are connected to.

        Texas bets big on solar energy as massive grid powers up

        El Paso Electric customers now have access to the largest community solar grid in the state of Texas. The three-megawatt facility has 33 thousand solar panels in a 21-acre facility next to El Paso Electric’s (EPE) natural gas power plant. The community solar pilot program is subscriber based and is currently maxed out at 1,500 customers

        The price per kilowatt is fixed at $20.96.

        Read more @ http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/06/06/texas-bets-big-on-solar-energy-as-massive-grid-powers-up.html

      • Ohio is NOT 12.35. Its triple that. There are transmission fees, handling fees, climate change fees and the tripled rate because we have to buy from Canada instead of one of our own plants…now closed.
        Last year everyone started cutting down their trees in order to burn wood to stay alive in winter.

    • Has anything happened to change the physics? As I understand it, solar doesn’t work unless the sun is shining, necessitating backup by fossil fuels. Wind power doesn’t work if the wind is too fast or too slow, likewise necessitating backup by fossil fuels. Those fossil-fuel power sources have to run 24/7 just to fill in the gaps in solar and wind power; a bit wasteful, yes? How much more efficient it would be simply to have the fossil-fuel sources take the whole load!

      • Nope, you’re spot on, but Governor Moonbeam has rebranded himself into Gov. Sunbeam, and his revival circus show will be passing legislation to suspend the laws of physics.
        However the laws of economics will actually advance Sunbeam’s goal, but only due to how the numbers are derived. CA may well be 100% green and be able to supply all the needs of the few remaining individuals, as every one with means will be leaving for OR, WA, or heaven forbid ND. They are plotting a strategy to turn CA from the worlds 8th largest economy to one that will be teetering on the brink of collapse. I can only wish that the secessionists succeed (wow! say that one 3 times real fast) so that the rest of the US won’t have to bail them out.

      • Rocketscientist, this is just a plan to make a small fortune in renewables. Start with a large fortune.

      • that one that one that one
        Easy, (-;

        There will always be winners in the green game, such as Al Gore.

      • Yes, but demand is not constant over 24 hours, nor is it constant over the year. Many places have a peak in demand during daylight hours when solar is most available. Fossil fuel plant is OFF when renewables are running… forecasting allows fossil fuel (gas) to be spun up as renewables fall off and soon batteries will entirely replace spinning reserve/peaker plant

        UK has good wind resource in winter when solar produces less (though I note yesterday wind and solar were producing 38% of all UK electricity during the day, with coal at 1%). California in summer can meet an increasing part of demand from solar, with batteries, hydro and CSP covering the evening peak/ramp up as solar falls off.

        Your assertions are out of date.

      • I see Griff is back to peddling nonsense.
        Yes, demand is variable but so what? Unless the variabilities line up, this makes the problem worse, not better.
        The peak in demand for electricity is in the early evening. The peak solar is closer to noon. Just because both are technically during the day isn’t relevant.
        No, fossil fuel plants are not “OFF” when renewables are generating power. The reason for this is simple enough that even a low grade moron such as yourself should be able to understand it.
        You can’t just shut down and turn on fossil fuel plants with the flick of a switch. They take hours to days to start up or shut down.
        Secondly, running them at anything less than flat out means they aren’t being run efficiently which increases their cost.

      • Griff, just last year I heard a Ca-ISO representative complain about the need to quickly ramp up fossil fuel-fired generation in the late afternoon as solar output slides to zero and residential demand soars. ISO has to try to be efficient in programming generation to meet demand, so it tries to ramp up the more efficient base load plants (mostly combined cycle turbines) to meet demand, but that rapid increase in generation is not something those combined cycle turbines are designed for, and boilers physically cannot do it, so there is an increase in wear and rear on those units from this misuse to accommodate the renewables fad. Please let me know if the magic battery fairy ever shows up, but in the mean time the renewables mandate is molesting California’s else trinity generators as badly as Michael Mann molested his paleoclimatology data.

      • Your governor has his head where the sun never shines and is, accordingly dim!

      • Hey MarkW, don’t be rude! Just because everything he says is moronic doesn’t mean Griffy is a moron! Griffy is not a moron, he’s making big bucks getting paid to troll this and numerous other sites!

      • In Griff’s world, any trend that he likes will continue forever. Reality need not apply.

    • … and paying Nevada Power $.08 KWh to take excess power …

      It sounds crazy but it’s actually standard operating practice for most systems.

    • If California has excess power, why is Wyoming adding the Barack Obama Legacy Wind Plant (aka Sierra-madre-Chokecherry)? All that wonderful wind energy defiling that plains was to go to California. California doesn’t sully it’s own state with the turbines. They destroy other’s states.

      • I live in CA Sheri, and we’ve got turbines everywhere. They used to amuse me. Now I see them as monuments to evil.

        I wonder, David, does your cost per KWH include subsidies, or is it just user price?

      • States generating electricity from coal should start to have a second look at the imputed damage from coal combustion. When they export coal generated electricity they should add to it the supposedly economic cost of electricity generation from coal. So if it takes $0.10/kwh they should charge $0.30/kwhr when they dispatched the coal generated across the boundary Then take in $0.08/kwhr when there is an excess of power on the other side of the boundary as electricity from wind and is hardly stored at all. If they negotiate really hard they may be even able to get below $0.08/kwhr

      • Loose any sensible argument and invent the term “imputed” where on can makeup any number with false information. Sounds like the methods the Soviets used to starve the population
        What is the imputed value of all those birds death Obama gave a pass on?

      • eo June 7, 2017 at 6:18 pm

        States generating electricity from coal should start to have a second look at the imputed damage from coal combustion.

        eo, as a resident of the State of WV, …… I shur would appreciate it iffen you would tell me what some of those “imputed damage from coal combustion” are ….. and how they are affecting my health and living standards.

        Or are you just one of those “streetcorner mimickers” that is 100% supportive of the “green agenda”?

      • eo, what are these alleged pollutions from coal. All the bad stuff was taken care of decades ago and is already priced into the cost of production.

    • Don’t forget to add in the imputed costs of solar, e.g. the toxic waste nightmare spreading across Chinese water systems.

  2. The same relationship holds for Europe. Denmark highest renewable electricity share (wind) and highest retail rate. Germany second highest renewables and retail rate.

  3. 18.87¢/kWh in California? I’ll take all you got. With the tiers and surcharges I doubt anyone effectively pays less than 25¢.

    • +1 In Southern California my last bill was $22 for 290 kWh usage ($.07477/kWh) and $51 with delivery, generation, basic charge, bonds, city tax, and state tax included.

      • Do you really care about the breakdown of delivery, generation, etc.? I personally don’t, but instead consider my total user cost. In San Diego, I paid $39.64 for 184 kWh. AFAIC, that’s 21.54 cents per kWh.

      • “…Do you really care about the breakdown of delivery, generation, etc.?….”
        And you don’t? You must take that into account when you see charts/graphs showing the relative costs of electricity. Are they being honest or not? Honest = actual/total cost. Don’t you see that?

      • In Texas thanks to my high tech TPO roof I’m averaging less than 500kWh per month and my bill is in the $23.00 per month range ever since switching to plant rewards small consumers.

    • Present California tariffs in process ask for about 30 ¢ soon and about 50 ¢ not too long from now for residential retail. Time Of Day price tariff Central Vally Summers can run a few cents under $/kwhr. That is exactly when you need A/C most. Btw. 110 F in the shade and there aint no shade…

      Yeah, I live in their rate zone… (PG&E)

      Oh, and 19 ¢ /kwhr ends if you go over the set expected usage (average based on neighbors / area) so everyone is spanked if they are not below average… now think about that for a minute… can you ever get most people below average?…. so when is a penalty really a normal rate?…

      • I lived in the Inland Empire of SoCal for 28 years, and in fact started a renewable energy company in 1999. It was designed to take the green waste (lawn clippings, branches, etc) and turn them into natural gas. It would have been economically viable because municipalities at the time were paying disposers $20 a ton to safely get rid of green waste. The natural gas revenue would actually not have contributed almost anything to the bottom line, as it turns out. But it would have been solvent had the $20/ton rate kept going.

        One of the reasons I finally fled SoCal was that my home electric bill was once $1,200 for a single month. It was due to the fact that electric power rates were set in a manner similar to progressive income tax rates, and I had a big house that used a fair amount of power. Mr. Smith is on point about that.

      • Oh, and 19 ¢ /kwhr ends if you go over the set expected usage (average based on neighbors / area) so everyone is spanked if they are not below average… now think about that for a minute… can you ever get most people below average?…. so when is a penalty really a normal rate?…

        … when everyone is above average !

        I presume they only hit you with the higher rate for that amount that you go over , they do not recalculate all your bill at the ‘penalty’ rate.

    • Who in NJ is paying $0.15/kW-hr? With all fees and taxes, I’m at about $0.12.

      • DJ
        I don’t know where you live but if I look at all the costs, it is about 0.15/kwh. It may be less in some locations until the planned shut down of a number of coal and Nuclear plants throughout the state to meet the upcoming renewable mandate. Electricity from all those offshore wind turbines will likely cost about $ 0.25/kwh. We are on the rod to hell and the enviros are fighting the natural gas line to convert to natural gas fired electricity facilities

      • I live in Canberra, Australia. We are almost completely powered by the Snowy Hydro Scheme and yet we are paying $0.15 per kW-hour. I know the ACT’s green government is paying into the green/renewable belief system, but it has only wasted one or two motzas on it, so I don’t see why our electricity prices should be so high.

    • Most of any bill is not from electricity. Most of it is transmission fees, nuclear decommissioning fees, distribution, and tree trimming, tariffs and other surcharges. Most of these other costs are set by politicians or utility oversite organizations. In some cases the oversize organizations may simply rubber stamp utility rate increases. In fact my last electricity bill in the San Francisco bay area was $0.11 per KWH. Total electricity bill was about $70 dollars and half of that was the cost of the electricity to power my volt. I live in a condo and my next door neighbor pays more than 2 times what I pay. Neither of use have air conditioners and my neighbor doesn’t have an electric vehicle. Why the bill difference? I have been systematically monitoring my power usage and looked for areas of waist and eliminating them. He is only just starting to realize that he needs to do the same. I am not living in dark rooms or sweating in hot rooms. I have a 50 inch TV (I watch too much) grow lights for my orchids and an aquarium that has a water pump that runs all the time.

  4. CA’s cost would be even higher if it didn’t get cheap hydropower from BPA. Besides OR and WA, BPA also serves ID, MT, NV, UT and WY.

    • There was no market for wind power in Montana. So a deal was made with Alberta to take Montana wind power.

    • And, hydropower electricity from Hoover Dam and Palo Verde nuclear power in AZ. With all the imported power California will never close to 100% renewables.

  5. Can they actually back up their claim that the two states produce 20% of their electricity from renewables, or are they once again confusing installed capacity with actual production?

    • That 20% figure excluding hydro is way too high. 15% including hydro. Renewables also includes biomass and geothermal (about 2% together).

      • Hydro is not renewable in California. We are basically agin dams. We don’t even want dams for water storage let alone renewable solar energy. Hydro is almost the only reliable form of solar on demand, because of the huge storage capacity of that dam battery. It’s trivial to send another thimble full of water down the turbine pipe, when I turn on my electric toothbrush; day or night.

        G

    • Looking at the EIA numbers California net generation was 26.4% from renewables for the 1st quarter 2017. I haven’t looked at the 2016 numbers.

      • “…California net generation was 26.4% from renewables for the 1st quarter 2017….”
        And how much of that was actually used? They won’t tell you because they can’t.

    • PG&E, My utility reports 30% renewables based on calculation methods the Ferc (Federal utilities and regulation commission and california utilities commission approve. And in the case of California old hydro does not count as renewable.

  6. But of course the greenies will still say how economical wind and solar are. (Awake and online, Griff?).

  7. Is this the same Calif that passed a health care bill and no way to fund it?

    ..they over built and over refurbished gas plants…now they are generating more elec than they need

    Californians are paying billions for power they don’t need

    California regulators have for years allowed power companies to go on a building spree, vastly expanding the potential electricity supply in the state. Indeed, even as electricity demand has fallen since 2008, California’s new plants have boosted its capacity enough to power all of the homes in a city the size of Los Angeles — six times over. Additional plants approved by regulators will begin producing more electricity in the next few years.
    Although California uses 2.6% less electricity annually from the power grid now than in 2008, residential and business customers together pay $6.8 billion more for power than they did then. The added cost to customers will total many billions of dollars over the next two decades, because regulators have approved higher rates for years to come so utilities can recoup the expense of building and maintaining the new plants, transmission lines and related equipment, even if their power isn’t needed.

    http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-electricity-capacity/

    …and they get credit for doing something wonderful…when they should not even be allowed to run a coffee shop

    • “when they should not even be allowed to run a Whelk stall”
      In English-English parlance.

      Auto

    • Could CA capacity-building be a result of surrounding States withdrawing from power sales contracts?

    • California is destined to be 100% renewables (non hydro) and 100% electric vehicles. We will then find out just how much excess electricity California really has.

      We probably have more excess electricity than does South Australia and Victoria combined.

      G

    • While overall demand has stayed flat. the type of power plants California needs are changing. With a lot of solar now California needs power plants that can ramp up and down very fast and completely shut down when not needed. Many of the older plants cannot do that. Furthermore with nuclear no longer being an economic source of power and last one will be shutting down soon. Also power demand on hot days can easily be double normal demand. So as a result older plants are being shut down or will be shut down in a few years. and new ones are being built. Also with the recent drought very little power was generated from hydro so probably some power plants were built due to the electricity needs during the drought. But all that said California utilities don’t own power plants. California utilities only sign contracts for power. The private sector may be overbuilding power plants right now

      • Why don’t they put a bunch of exercise bikes running generators in the civil service offices? A horn can sound every time a cloud goes over and the race begins! You might have a hope of getting some value out of your fleet of idiots and some power on demand and cheaper than wind and solar. Please post video on line if you use this idea. Please!

  8. In there any info about the reliability in each the states? Remember there are two components to the retail price, the price of the energy and the cost of maintaining, (reliable), delivery. I pay about 14.75 cents for power from a co-op in Northern Michigan, but we have incredibly reliable delivery given the hostile winter weather that we have here. The reliability, alone, is worth a ton.

    • Michigan is in the process of obtaining more electricity from Ontario to cover an expected shortfall in electricity supply.

      Michigan is already getting electricity generated in Ontario for very low prices and/or free. Ontario generated electricity is “dumped” on the market at prices below prices charged to Ontario residents. Same thing applies to New York. And how much would New Yorkers have to pay for their electricity without cheap and/or free Ontario generated electricity?

      This practice has resulted in many Ontario residents being placed into Energy Poverty which is paid for Ontario residents. Ontario has government owned electricity generation.

      Ontario is at present over-building their electricity capacity with no need for the additional electricity supply.

      Vermont had to make a deal for Quebec generated electricity after Vermont closed its nuclear power plant. Transmission line construction is in progress from Quebec to Vermont.

      California would have to curtail its electricity production if the new western states power grid had not been approved.

      About time that the real facts are revealed.

      • Perhaps the role Earthjustice and the Sierra Club played in closing Michigan coal fired power plants should be reviewed? Earthjustice HQ is in California.

        And at the same time Earthjustice and the Sierra Club were advocating for renewable energy in Michigan.

      • Wikipedia: Earthjustice

        HQ San Francisco, Calif.

        Programs: Earthjustice International Program

        “Every year, Earthjustice submits a country-by-country report on human rights and the environment to the United Nations.”

        Impact on U.S. environmental law:

        In the 2006 Supreme Court case (Mass. v. EPA) Earthjustice attorneys helped a coalition of state governments and environmental groups to force the EPA to fight global warming by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthjustice

        EPA is U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

      • Barbara, I think you are a bit confused. The surplus that Ontario sells is only available when it is not needed, hence the negative pricing. Ontario is adding capacity but it is non dispatchable so it can’t be relied upon to serve demand.

      • Perhaps you should check with parties that are watching how much it’s costing Ontarians for “dumping” surplus electricity into the U.S.?

        Renewable energy producers in Ontario are first in line to provide electricity. So then nuclear has to be steamed off and/or hydro spilled to make way for renewable energy supplies to be first inline.

        Nuclear & hydro power are curtailed so that the more expensive renewable energy is used first.

      • NPR/National Public Radio, Pennsylvania, July 11, 2016

        Environmentalists challenge grid operator’s new reliability ‘regulation’

        The Sierra Club, NRDC, Earthjustice and Union of Concerned Scientists filed a lawsuit Friday challenging a federal agency’s approval of the new regulation adopted by the operator of the nation’s largest power grid, PJM Interconnection.

        Earthjustice + environmental groups filed a lawsuit against a Federal agency.

        https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2016/07/11/environmentalists-challenge-grid-operators-new-reliability-regulation

    • Fair point. Where I’m at in FL certainly isn’t cheap, but considering that after a CAT II hurricane they can get power up and running again fast enough that the food in the freezer doesn’t spoil, I can at least see where the money is going. Considering that we’re in the lower 50% across the country (27th in the chart above), I’m pretty pleased with the service.

      Contrast that to New Orleans where the power was certainly cheaper (LA is 49th above), but we lost power in a light wind. We had a prolonged outage at least three times a month the entire time I lived there. A CAT IV hurricane (basically a decent sized thunderstorm for those unfamiliar) took more than two weeks to recover from. The power savings over four years were probably more than made up for in the cost of spoiled perishables alone. I can’t imagine what kind of financial havoc it played with industrial customers. Every grocer had to have a massive back-up generation system installed on-site.

  9. Looking at Ca’s Energy sources…it gets 16% from hydro….pretty large factor compared to the average US at 8%…only 8% comes from nuclear….they will shortly need to make that up. probably from out of state coal….lol….they already get a considerable amount of power from out of state…they only stand around 11% wind and solar….a few more percentages with biomass and geothermal. but a whopping 60% comes from nat gas….I’d like to see what happens when they try to go 100% renewables…..glad I don’t live in that state…..

    • They will do quite well since they will merely fall back on the grid and let the grid balance their unstable power and supply what they need – sort of like South Australia, but the grid California ties into has greater capacity.

    • Total renewables for california right now is 30% excluding hydro. The utilities are required to reach 30% by 2020 . They got there a little early. There are even higher renewable target for 2030 and 2040. There are power shortages and power reliability is about equal to any other state.

      • “Total renewables for california right now is 30% excluding hydro.” Nameplate, not actual usage.

      • The California ISO shows renewable capacity at 28.7% of total installed capacity as of 3/27/2017.

      • “….renewable capacity at 28.7% of total installed capacity….” Useless data. How much ‘renewable’ energy is actually used?

  10. The bottom 25 differ by about 2 3/4 cents , the top 25 by 8 cents. Obviously, we have a winner for the cause of rate spikes.

  11. Interesting. So Oregon and Washington are low because of massive hydroelectric capacities – the same sort of renewables that “greenies” really hate to start with. I am surprised that they haven’t tried to have them destroyed like California did theirs, unless, of course, they are federally owned perhaps?

    • Oregon’s recently disgraced governor did try to breech the Columbia River dams, the geese which have laid so many golden eggs, but since they’re mostly federal, he couldn’t.

      • He had also previously opposed wind mills because of their presumed ill effects upon ground squirrels.

        But now it appears that only salmon are animals worthy of Green worship and protection. Birds, bats and squirrels, not so much.

    • They are. At least one dam on the Columbia is targeted for removal. One dam on the Olympic Peninsula has already been removed and many of the smaller hydro power plants are having a hard time gettin thei licenses renewed.

  12. There is cost, and then there is value.
    The value of an energy source that cannot respond to load demand is next to zero or negative.

  13. How much influence does Bonneville Power purchasing by California have on the overall CA average?

  14. David, are you aware that NE US gets a big proportion of its electricity from Quebec Hydro. Wholesale price is 4¢/kWh and Minnesota, and possibly others, get subsidized power from windmills in Ontario! (they way over built w-capacity because the lefty prov gov had a secret plan to force us off natural gas for heating in the near future! The policy document was leaked and there was a furor and they backed off saying it was one of a range theoretical ideas.). If you can find how much electricity imported by state you could calculate the real price of for those states. I believe the entire city of NY uses QH power. The citizens are being ripped off those prices with the state getting a bigger profit than QH.

    • NYC is not yet getting their whole supply of electricity from Quebec but they would like to get more if not all of their electricity from Quebec and Ontario.

      Pennsylvania as well. Closed down western Pennsylvania coal power plants and now want electricity from Ontario. The Lake Erie HVDC under water line has already been approved for 1,000 MW with maybe expansion to 2,000 MW if approved. Cable will connect Ontario and western Pennsylvania.

    • I did know that, I grew up in Connecticut. Even though I was only 7 years old at the time, I remember this:

      The 12 Biggest Blackouts In History

      BY ROGER CORMIER

      […]

      Fifty years ago today, The Great Northeast Blackout affected approximately 30 million people in both the U.S. and Canada, making it the single biggest power failure in U.S. history at the time. In remembrance of its 50th anniversary, here are 12 of the biggest power failures around the world.

      1. NORTHEAST UNITED STATES AND NORTHERN CANADA // NOVEMBER 9, 1965
      A faulty relay at Sir Adam Beck Station on the Ontario side of Niagara Falls led to what was then the biggest power failure in U.S. history. At 5:16 p.m., the tripping of a 230-kilovolt transmission line began a domino effect resulting in a surge of power that overwhelmed transmission lines and put New York City in the dark at the height of a Tuesday rush hour. 800,000 people were reported trapped in the subway.

      In addition to New York, power overloads and automatic system shutdowns affected 30 million people in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire,Vermont, Quebec, and Ontario. 10,000 National Guardsmen and 5,000 off-duty police officers were called into service to prevent looting, although it turned out to be relatively calm and peaceful. Power was restored for most people within 13 hours.

      […]

      http://mentalfloss.com/article/57769/12-biggest-electrical-blackouts-history

      It was rumored that the The Great Northeast Blackout was the result of a UFO attack… ;)

      • 1. NORTHEAST UNITED STATES AND NORTHERN CANADA // NOVEMBER 9, 1965

        So, NWT and Yukon had a blackout?

  15. Washington state is lowest because of Bonneville power and the legacy of committed public works projects back when dams they were not blocked by advocacy groups.

    • At the time, new Federal hydropower was more expensive than existing. The REA coops bought it at the time because the IOUs wouldn’t.

      When existing hydropower became less expensive, BPA started spreading it around to the favored, including IOUs.

      • …and when a major silver mine in northern Idaho closed in a steel workers union fight, its power commitment was sold off to California.

    • Yeah. Yet more posing, posturing, symbolism and money-wasting by the elite ruling ‘do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do’ class of clueless morons. AKA, ‘our betters’.

  16. How do you afford to live. Here in Alberta we pay less than $0.05/kWh Canadian plus $40/month delivery fees. That is primarily Coal and Natural Gas (its too flat here for hydro electric dams).

    Does the above table include delivery fees etc?

    • I’m pretty sure it does. I pay about 11¢/kWh in Dallas. About 8¢ goes to Reliant for the electricity and about 3¢ goes to Oncor for delivery.

    • Well, we don’t use the A/C, the heater is gas, all lightling possible is CFL or LED (though that is very limited as they have a blue spike that resets your bioclock and causes insomnia..so I have a drawer full or removed LED bulbs and now we sleep well again). The entertainment center was just converted to lower power flat screens. I use a Raspberry Pi main desktop (about 5 W instead of 200+W). The fridge is now smaller with high efficiency.

      That just leaves the All Electric Kitchen… so I’ve got a camp stove for boiling water to make drip coffee and bought a kerosene stove / oven for bread baking. It sits on the patio where the propane BBQ gets lots of use… I still use the AEK for some quick meals, and sometimes a slowcooker for the other end. Cold salads and sandwiches help too. Especially when not using the A/C on warm days… Cold cerial instead of pancakes makes low electricity breakfast, too. Lots of wood for the wood BBQ, weather permitting. Yeah, 2 different fueled BBQs. Propane easier if there is damp or drizzle. Lucky we have dry 80% of the year…

      How burning gasoline, kerosene, and wood improves the environment is left as an exercise for the student of all things green-law…

    • Yeah I’ve been to Alberta and it sure is flat, specially if you are driving from Banff to Jasper. Just boring mile after boring mile, flat as a pancake. Specially around the Columbia Ice Field. Sort of like a frozen lake or the Arctic sea ice.

      G

      • I’ve been to Alberta and it sure is flat, specially if you are driving from Banff to Jasper.

        Flat!?! You’re in the middle of the Rocky Mountains! There are 10,000 to 14,000 peaks on both sides of you.

        What’s boring is having to drive around 30 mph (something like 57 km). But then you can round the bend and there are 30 rams in the road. Hit one of those at your peril.

    • That’s even less than Montreal (in Quebec, where hydro is abundant), if the number further up is correct.

  17. Once again we see the utter stupidity of the greenie folks. “Clean” energy they define arbitrarilly and, stranger than fiction, they leave out nuclerar power, which means that they are not basing “clean” on emissions. When one eliminates emissions as a criteria, then certainly a 2500 MW coal plant that occupies perhaps 75 acres, producing power that is equal to that produced by 6250 wind turbines, occupying tens of thousands of acres would have to have a far smaller environmental footprint. Ditto for all those solar roofs. Wind turbines rest on a more or less square block of concrete built into the ground. So where is the money coming from to remove these concrete monsters when the time comes, something already required and already being financed by nuclear power plants? And turbines DO have negative effects on the ground around them.
    South Carolina is close to adding yet two more nuclear plants into its grid, and already produces enormously fewer emissions than California. SC currently is 57.2% nuclear as of this past quarter, and after the addition of the two new nuclear plants, will add 19.8%, yielding 77% of its power emission free. THAT is clean energy, unsubsidized by the Feds. California will never reach that level of emission free power. As I recall, they are targetting 25% emission free in a decade or so as their goal. and it’s not even clear which power they are talking about, since a large proportion of California’s power is bought from plants outside the state and not under the control of California. California, land of stupid idiots and even dumber govts.
    I might add that the power required by a fleet of a million all electric cars (the approx number of vehicles in South Carolina) could be provided by less than a third of the output of a single nuclear reactor.

      • It is a geologic fact that the continental U.S. tilts to the SW, and everything loose rolls into CA.

    • “South Carolina is close to adding yet two more nuclear plants into its grid”

      Do you know if the Cherokee plant is still go?

    • Worse yet the only nuclear plant still “on-line” in California is scheduled to be shut down in the near future. PG&E plans to close Diablo Canyon within the next 10 years. The plant has been in operation since 1985 and still has useful life but the greenies in CA are too strong a force. PG&E has totally caved to environmental mandates.

    • the utter stupidity of the greenie folks

      Well, they apparently believe that reality is comprised of just a competing set of narratives and whoever’s narrative is shrieked loudest and most often, wins. Unfortunately their allies seem to be politicians and media, so their delusion works far more than it should.

  18. Well, to quote every eco-activist I’ve ever heard, “It’s just a beginning… just a BARE beginning.”

    I’m sure they’ll make up that penny and then some.

  19. “further confirmation that regardless of the Trump administration’s efforts to promote fossil-fuel interests, clean energy is making undeniable inroads.” In the case of California it is because the legislature has mandated it. That is why our energy costs are so high. The inroads are only because individual states are mandating the change. It ain’t because it is the cheapest source out there. The free market pricing has nothing to do with this increase in wind and solar.

    • But the PTC/Production Tax Credit does. The PTC which was adopted by the U.S. government is a way of transforming to the new Green Energy Economy.

      Canada is using the Feed-in-tariff way of transforming to the new Green Economy.

      State mandates are at the sub-national level to get renewable energy installed in states or provinces.

      State mandates plus the PTC or Feed-in-tariffs are the way to the new Green Economy.

  20. Interesting, but misses the mark entirely.

    Average residential electricity price in the US lower 48 states is an almost perfect function of electricity consumption per capita (kWh/y/customer), with least-squares-regression r^2 = 0.9997. see e.g. Figure 1 at http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/07/a-perfect-correlation-us-electricity.html (data from US Energy Information Agency for calendar year 2014)

    Such residential prices have very little, if any at all, to do with renewable contribution to the state’s grid. The facts show that California residential electricity use is below the national average, and the price per kWh consumed is slightly above average. The reason for the California higher price relative to the national average is low electricity consumption in a mild climate, by a very large number of customers, approximately 15 million customers statewide.

    In addition, to disprove the contention that increased renewable energy also increases residential prices, see Figure 1 of http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/06/california-electricity-rates.html.

    In California, where renewable energy contributed almost zero to the grid ten years ago, residential prices have barely kept up with inflation over the past decade. Over the past 20 years (1995 to present), inflation-adjusted residential prices have declined 2 cents per kWh, a bit more than 10 percent.

    The renewable-energy bashing may continue on WUWT. but the facts show clearly that renewables do not increase residential electricity prices. Quite the opposite is true.

    • Average residential electricity price in the US lower 48 states is an almost perfect function of electricity consumption per capita (kWh/y/customer),…

      I would definitely consume a lot less electricity if I had to spend $0.19/kWh.

      • What are you paying now *ALL IN* for electricity, David?

        I am paying 18.5 cents per kWH ALL IN here just north of Dallas, Texas.

        Base Rate is 11.5 c per kWH, BUT, the delivery charge fee ADDS another 30 some percent to the final bill. That, and a few misc fees and taxes.

        DO YOU SEE THE NUMBERS GAME BEING PLAYED YET!?

      • I’m paying about $0.11/kWh, all-in, for a very large house with 4 AC units, a pool and a lot of other gadgets and about $0.13/kWh, all-in, for a small apartment in Houston.

        I don’t see “THE NUMBERS GAME BEING PLAYED”… but, I minored in math.

      • I live in West Texas and I am looking at my most recent electric bill. My all-in price includes usage charge, energy charge, Oncor electric delivery services, gross receipts tax Reimbursement (whatever that is), and Sales Tax 1.5%. My total is .123 $/KWh. In Texas, unlike California, the more I use, the cheaper it gets.

    • Soon to be a little higher usage per California customer when the Brownian Motion to 100% renewable and 100% electric kicks in.

      Elon Musk already knows that someone is paying for the free electricity his cars use. Pretty soon he’ll find out how much that person is paying for his 650 horsepower commute vehicles. Well with the only reliable battery charger, being in your garage, your actual safe driving range is closer to 70 miles than it is to 300.

      I just did a round trip from Sunnyvale to Brentwood in Socal (OJ Street) on a single tank of gas less the final 30 miles, and the reason we used so much gas, is I let my son drive about one third of the trip, and he’s a lead foot. Well we went down there for a party and then drove home. Who would stay in Socal, specially in the hollyweird/Santa Monica region ??

      G

      • “Elon Musk already knows that someone is paying for the free electricity his cars use. ”

        Yes he knows where it is comming from. He is paying for it. It has been that way since tesla started. HOwever in the last couple of years they have changed there policy and free power is now limited. If you exceed your limit they charge your.

      • Too fracking funny… There isn’t a special green exemption from the law of supply and demand. Lower demand doesn’t cause higher prices.

        The combination of the Peoples Republic of California’s Euro-sized electricity rates and its climate lead to lower demand in the PRC…

        If Texas had summers like the PRC, the average monthly electricity bill would be a lot lower.

  21. Southern California Edison charges 0.16 cents/KWh in Tier 1 (up to 335 kWh), 0.25 cents/kWh in Tier 2 (up to 1,340 kWh) and 0.31 cents/kWh in Tier 3 (now called HIGH USAGE CHARGE), I call it the save the planet charge, feed a democrat charge above 1341 kWh. If you have a larger home with two AC units and or a pool, it can easily go into Tier 3. Electricity bills above $500 per month are not unusual in the summer, sometimes higher.

  22. Alaska and Hawaii really shouldn’t be on the list, one way or the other. They are outliers. Hawaii has to import all its fuel. Renewables, if anything, will probably lower the price of their electricity in the long run. Alaska has really high transmission costs due to the size of the state, and low population.

  23. I bet the Danes and the Germans wish their electricity was as cheap as Hawaii.
    As the philosopher Dylan once noted, the answer is Blowin’ in the Wind.
    lol

    • Germans, as you know, use far less electricity than a US household and are much more likely to have solar panels and/or a share in a community renewable project. Their bills are not higher, even if the cost of a unit of electricity is…

      • In isolation that is a fairly useless statistic Griff, because they have a different climate. You also need to know things such as the fraction of heating costs that are met by electricity vs other fuels etc…

        The bottom line is that wind power is routinely shown to be more expensive where it is deployed in significant amounts, and it only does so with interventionist help from government (subsidies, feed in tariffs, penalties against ‘traditional’ fuels) distorting the electricity market in favor of wind.

  24. Actually, Washington State enviros have managed to force the teardown of two dams on the Elwha river near Port Angeles. This was a save our fish exercise. The first major effect of tearing down the upper Elwha dam was degradation in the Port Angeles water supply. It turns out that the lake behind the dam not only provided power, but also supplied the aquifer which Port Angeles taps for its drinking water. The second major effect was that the now uncontrolled runoff is undermining a major bridge on Highway 101. This will result in either replacement of the bridge at great cost or rerouting of highway 101 to bypass the trouble spot.

  25. “Texas 40.2 11.31 34”

    Texas at 11..3 ?

    Don’t let them BULLSH!T you !!!!!!

    I’m paying 18.5 cents per kWH **ALL IN** which includes the Oncor delivery charge and taxes and other misc. fees.

    That “11.3” figure is ONLY the electricity price per kWH and EXCLUDES the DELIVERY charge and taxes.

    Delivery adds about 30 percents (give or take) more. We USED TO have NO delivery charge, but the PUC of Texas approved the “Delivery Charge” 5 or so years back.

    PART of the extra delivery charges PAY FOR transmission lines to WIND FARMS in west Texas.

    • I have a house in Dallas and an apartment in Houston. All in, I am paying ~$0.11/kWh in Dallas and ~$0.13/kWh in Houston.

      Maybe you should…

  26. In Alberta, I just got my latest power bill today for part of April and part of May, and it was 2.744 KWH for May portion, and 2.985 for the April portion. With taxes and all the delivery charges it came to 13.9789 KWH. So far we can’t complain, but I don’t expect it last.

  27. The claim by the faux green group is a lie.
    Not one state is getting anything closer to 20% of its power on a day-to-day measure from so-called “renewable non-hydro power”.
    The actual numbers day in and day out are in the low single digits of % of power.
    It is long past time to effectively call green shit for the bullshit it is.

  28. California excels at spending other peoples money on credit . But hey they keep electing Brown
    … well except for those that have moved out and over 4 million illegals that are happy to be out of an even worse place .
    Pop taxes , a cow fart tax , . What’s next a tax on those with the audacity to vote Republican . Call it the
    Berkeley Tax after the place where free speech was encouraged then died .
    Why don’t they just have a “renewable ‘ electric rate that people of the scary global warming faith can
    pay for and truly be self righteous . People promoting carbon taxes like to talk about sending the right price “signal ” . How about sending a buying signal to all the hypocrites or would that be a little too much reality for the eco -pretenders .

    Brown will leave 5 minutes before California debt goes junk .

    • One of the many things that convinced me to move myself and my company from CA was when I went to the local hardware store and bought a quart of paint. The invoice included a $.32/quart California Paint Steward Fee.

  29. Electric prices are going to increase in Maryland because the Democrat-controlled legislature just passed a law requiring suppliers to provide 25 percent from renewable sources and the Public Service (SIC) Commission just approved subsidies for two off-the-coast wind farms.

  30. In Mesa AZ, the past 12 months i used 20208 KWH which cost $2293.31 all in. That is 11.35 cents/KWH which is pretty close to the 11.73 cents/KWH from the chart above. My home is all electric, two A/C units, a pool and two folks recently retired using a time of use plan.

  31. Author and commentator Matt Ridley had an article in the U.K. Spectator magazine showing that to THE NEARE6 WHOLE NUMBER wind produced zero per cent of global energy demand in 2014. Actually 0.46%. That’s the number to shove down the throats of the warmists. He reckoned to produce the globe’s annual increase of 2% wd take 350,000 windmills. It’s on line.

  32. In OZ being an island continent it is not unusual to have a huge high pressure system over the whole of OZ, when this happens the green crucifixes stop rotating and almost zero power comes from the entire lot.

    We now refer to what the green mob call renewable power as intermittent power sources.
    Intermittent power this year has caused some serious problems and blackouts on some grids, aluminium smelters are the worst effected and are packing their bags to leave OZ. Pity we have the largest bauxite deposits in the world.

  33. Dear editor,

    I wish to share my condolences for the bad news… that California has just barely missed the opportunity to have the most expensive electricity in the continental U.S., it is difficult to endure the embarrassment of losing the title to “off shore wind” Massachusetts. The California State Legislature must call an emergency session and impose a state-wide surcharge to put you in the lead once again. Please be sure to give it a good touchy-feely name.

    Sincerely yours,
    Governor of Austin, TX

  34. “Hawaii and Alaska have expensive electricity due to their remoteness.”
    Now. If only Hawaii and Alaska could harness the energy produced by vulcanism.

  35. Actually, the average California rates are more than 0.19 per kwh. This is the price for the ‘lifeline’ tier 1 kwh which is limited to about 10 kwh per day and nobody I know doesn’t exceed this. Anything over this is 0.27 per kwh and if you use more than 40 kwh per day, there’s an additional surcharge. To put this in perspective, a continuous load of only 400 W will consume all of the tier 1 kwh. An air conditioner. electric car or a couple of 24/7 computers can easily push you above the surcharge limit.

    • Cost varies by location and provider. I average less than 10 kWh/day. No AC (beach), LEDs, efficient appliances, gas heating (little use), gas hot water and clothes drying, 2250 sq. ft. home two people.

      • At 10 kwh per day, you are at the edge of tier 1 rate. Anything more is into tier 2 which is 40% more expensive. This includes AC, pools and spas, computer servers, electric dryers, electric cars, shop equipment and all these are mostly high power loads. My average varies between about 16 and 30 kwh per day depending on how much I’m home and the time of year.

        My point is that California at 0.19 per kwh is second from most expensive only for tier 1 rates which is about 10 kwh per day or less and as you pointed out, this is easy even when there are not a lot of higher power loads.

        The average cost across all residential customers is easily several cents more per kwh and surely the most expensive in the contiguous 48.

      • “….Anything more is into tier 2 which is 40% more expensive …” Actually my tier 2 is 56% more ($.16 vs. $.25) and I usually dip into it a bit for the two months of winter. Usually the “other” charges are more than the usage/kWh charge for me and that’s the point I’ve been trying to make. Using kWh is not a good relative cost measurement.

  36. My rates in Oregon have been going up, I wasn’t sure how much so I did a quick search and rates are up 43% since 2003. Why? Well we have to fund building those wind farms somehow… Costs are going to go up more, our one and only coal fired plant is scheduled to be closed in 2020. The date was 2030 after pouring millions into upgrading the plant but they then caved to green pressure and agreed to 2020. So we are still paying off that upgrade and will now have to also pay for a coal to gas conversion at the same time. That is, if the greens agree to allow that to happen (fat chance) without a fight.

    Anyway, according to the Oregon legislature hydro is not part of our renewable mix. This decision was made when they came up with their 25 by 2025 plan where 25% of our power is suppose to come from renewables by 2025. Hydro currently produces ~45% of our power so of course it can’t be renewable, if it was renewable they couldn’t shovel millions in taxpayer funds to their friends.

  37. Brown in California supports sustainability as long as its not financial .
    What ever happened to Berkeley ? Flower power turned to black mask cowards
    who won’t tolerate a different point of view .

    Considering the $100 grand plus of a college education why would anyone
    waste it on Berkeley . Take the courses on line and socialize with people that share your values .
    Never saw a better advertisement of the down fall in a “university ” education. Holding pen rip off .

    Energy Rates
    ——————-
    Electric rates designed to punish consumers are not sustainable in the utility rate of return model
    whereby reduced consumption causes higher rates . The utility is guaranteed a rate of return on equity and capital . The portion varies between utilities but that is why utilities have moved more and more of their charges into the fix portion of bills . So much for sending a price signal .
    Why isn’t the whole energy tariff based on variable consumption if sending a price signal was so important ?
    Fuel poverty is guaranteed when the nut job eco – evangelists bully utility commissions . Hello California .
    If your business is portable why would you have it in California ?

    • You keep posting that map as though it means something other than hot southern places with high A C needs have higher bills. It is a stupid thing to do.

      My 1000 sq ft home with no AC in California does use less AC than the same priced 5000 sq ft mansion in Florida. BTW, moving there in a year or two … for obvious reasons. Won’t mind at all that I will finally be able to power a pool and be cool in summer. And that I can bake bread without the electricity costing more than the flour…

      • Yep…

        We wouldn’t have built a very large house with 4 AC units, a pool and a whole lot of other gadgets if we were paying >$0.19/kWh, with the rate escalating with higher consumption. We also wouldn’t have been able to afford to build a large house on a 1 acre wooded lot within 10 miles of downtown San Francisco, San Diego or any other comparably sized California city.

        Given a choice of paying $0.11/kWh and being able to run my AC at 75 F when it’s 105 F outside or paying $0.19/kWh and running by at 85 F because I don’t want to run my rate up to $0.34/kWh… I’ll take the former.

      • the point is simple.
        your rate is only part of the issue.
        My electricity bill in California has trended down since 1995.
        choices; make some.

      • “My 1000 sq ft home with no AC in California does use less AC than the same priced 5000 sq ft mansion in Florida. BTW, moving there in a year or two … for obvious reasons. Won’t mind at all that I will finally be able to power a pool and be cool in summer. And that I can bake bread without the electricity costing more than the flour…”

        Personally I choose to live where I dont need heating or cooling. simple.

      • ‘Personally I choose to live where I dont need heating or cooling. simple.’

        Wow. Just wow.
        Guess that pretty much limits where human beings are allowed to live, doesn’t it?
        And this ‘choice’ is apparently the moral high ground.

      • This choice (coastal CA?) is some of the highest priced real estate, at least in the Continental U.S.

        I am told this state of affairs results in high levels of “smug”?

  38. Breaking News! California Electricity Prices are High
    Posted on February 21, 2017 by James Bushnell

    In case you missed it, a recent investigative piece in the LA Times unearthed the shocking fact that California retail electricity prices are high, about 50% higher than the national average. The article’s main focus is on the fact that California has a lot more installed nameplate generation capacity then has historically been the norm. There are several causes identified in the piece. Deregulation of the market in the late 1990’s is pointed to as a culprit. Somewhat inconsistently, the construction of regulated, rate-based plants also takes much of the blame. One factor that was barely mentioned, however, was California’s renewable electricity policy.

    […]

    However, since the power crisis of the early 2000’s settled down, the dominant policy driver in the electricity sector has unquestionably been a focus on developing renewable sources of electricity generation. As is well known (outside of the LA Times apparently), California has one of the country’s most aggressive renewable portfolio standards (RPS). The RPS requires each firm that sells electricity to end-users to procure an increasing fraction (33% by 2020, 50% by 2030) of the energy they sell from renewable sources.

    […]

    Largely due to the RPS, we have a surge of new, low marginal cost energy, flooding into a wholesale market that already had enough generic energy, thereby driving down wholesale prices. Since wholesale prices cannot support the cost of this much generation (new and old), increasingly the gap must be made up through rising margins between wholesale and retail prices. Utilities and other retailers have to pay high market prices for new renewables instead of being able to “buy low” on the wholesale market. Because all retailers face the same regulation, they pass these costs on to end users. And this doesn’t even consider the costs of new transmission, most of which is being added to boost the power system’s ability to access and absorb large amounts of renewable energy. Transmission costs, which are also charged through to electricity end users as part of the retail prices cited in the Times article, will continue to grow in coming years. The Tehachapi transmission project alone is projected to cost over $2 Billion.

    The result is the seemingly perverse situation where customer rates are rising while (conventional) generation sources are simultaneously struggling for revenue and threatening to retire. Such conditions are a recurring theme on this blog and are often drivers of significant change. Unfortunately, despite the glut of electrical energy, we will likely still need the conventional capacity to handle the ramping and back-up needs created by the increased reliance on variable sources (wind and solar).

    […]

    California led the way with developing renewable energy in the 1980’s, with the deregulation of the power sector in the 1990’s and 2000’s, and now with high-volume renewable mandates since 2010. We are learning a lot about how to physically manage and finance a cleaner energy system. We also need be realistic about the costs of such policies. When you combine the cost of policies of the past with the aggressive goals for the future, you get retail electricity prices that, yes, continue to be pretty darn high.

    https://energyathaas.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/breaking-news-california-electricity-prices-are-high/

    Q-fracking-ED

  39. Californians are paying billions for power they don’t need

    We’re using less electricity. Some power plants have even shut down. So why do state officials keep approving new ones?

    The bucolic orchards of Sutter County north of Sacramento had never seen anything like it: a visiting governor and a media swarm — all to christen the first major natural gas power plant in California in more than a decade.

    At its 2001 launch, the Sutter Energy Center was hailed as the nation’s cleanest power plant. It generated electricity while using less water and natural gas than older designs.

    A year ago, however, the $300-million plant closed indefinitely, just 15 years into an expected 30- to 40-year lifespan. The power it produces is no longer needed — in large part because state regulators approved the construction of a plant just 40 miles away in Colusa that opened in 2010.

    […]

    California has a big — and growing — glut of power, an investigation by the Los Angeles Times has found. The state’s power plants are on track to be able to produce at least 21% more electricity than it needs by 2020, based on official estimates. And that doesn’t even count the soaring production of electricity by rooftop solar panels that has added to the surplus.

    To cover the expense of new plants whose power isn’t needed — Colusa, for example, has operated far below capacity since opening — Californians are paying a higher premium to switch on lights or turn on electric stoves. In recent years, the gap between what Californians pay versus the rest of the country has nearly doubled to about 50%.

    [,,,]

    “We overbuilt the system because that was the way we provided that degree of reliability,” explained Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. “Redundancy is important to reliability.”

    Some of the excess capacity, he noted, is in preparation for the retirement of older, inefficient power plants over the next several years. The state is building many new plants to try to meet California environmental standards requiring 50% clean energy by 2030, he said.

    […]

    “California has this tradition of astonishingly bad decisions,” said McCullough, the energy consultant. “They build and charge the ratepayers. There’s nothing dishonest about it. There’s nothing complicated. It’s just bad planning.”

    […]

    If electricity sales don’t cover the operating and construction costs of an independent power plant, it can’t continue to run for long. And if the independent plant closes, the owner — and not ratepayers — bears the burden of the cost.

    In contrast, publicly regulated utilities such as PG&E operate under more accommodating rules. Most of their revenue comes from electric rates approved by regulators that are set at a level to guarantee the utility recovers all costs for operating the electric system as well as the cost of building or buying a power plant — plus their guaranteed profit.

    […]

    LA Times

    Key quotes:

    “California has this tradition of astonishingly bad decisions,” said McCullough, the energy consultant. “They build and charge the ratepayers. There’s nothing dishonest about it. There’s nothing complicated. It’s just bad planning.”

    Some of the excess capacity, he noted, is in preparation for the retirement of older, inefficient power plants over the next several years. The state is building many new plants to try to meet California environmental standards requiring 50% clean energy by 2030, he said.

    Some??? More like 80% of the excess capacity is due to the RPS…

    Since 2010, about 80% of new capacity has come from renewable sources and it’s likely that much of that capacity would not have been built if not for the RPS. (Much of the remaining 20% has been coming online to replace the retired SONGS nuclear plant or capacity slated for retirement due to environmental issues with their water cooling processes.)

    https://energyathaas.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/breaking-news-california-electricity-prices-are-high/

      • No. A battery has not replaced a peaker gas power plant in LA…

        More than 18,000 lithium ion battery packs would replace a gas-fired power plant used to meet peak demand… Five years from now, if current plans work out, the “peaker” will be gone, replaced by the world’s largest storage battery, capable of holding and delivering over 100 megawatts of power an hour for four hours.
        […]

        For reference, the output of 100 MW is roughly a tenth of the power delivered by a modern nuclear power plant.

        AES also plans to build a new gas-fired plant on the site of the old peaker plant…

        Power company AES Corp. may soon win approval for a 300-megawatt battery facility that would be capable of storing more electrical power than any such facility previously constructed.

        “It is the largest that we know of in the world,” AES Southland President Jennifer Didlo said.

        AES and its affiliates are simultaneously pursuing three major projects for the company’s Long Beach site, the Alamitos Generating Station, along the western bank of the San Gabriel River. The firm is also seeking approval from state regulators to build a brand new natural gas-fueled power plant and if permission is granted, AES would demolish its existing plant.

        AES’ proposal for a battery electric energy storage facility in Long Beach calls for the construction of three 50-foot buildings that would be erected on the site of the Alamitos Generating Station’s parking lot, according to environmental documentation completed for the project.

        Each building would house arrays of lithium ion batteries and cooling equipment. The project would also require construction of a separate chiller plant and a fire-control system within each of the buildings housing a battery array.

        […]

        http://www.presstelegram.com/business/20161129/aes-proposing-to-build-largest-battery-facility-in-the-world-in-long-beach

        So… California electricity consumers will have to foot the bill for a battery storage system and a new natural gas-fired power plant on the site of a soon-to-be demolished gas-fired power plant. The soon-to-be demolished power plant is only 16 years old.

        https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/#/plant/315?freq=A&ctype=linechart&ltype=pin&maptype=0&pin=&linechart=ELEC.PLANT.GEN.315-ALL-ALL.A&columnchart=ELEC.PLANT.GEN.315-ALL-ALL.A


        “California has this tradition of astonishingly bad decisions,” said McCullough, the energy consultant. “They build and charge the ratepayers. There’s nothing dishonest about it. There’s nothing complicated. It’s just bad planning.”

      • That a 16 year old plant is being replaced with a battery system is a sign of that the power market and the technology has changed forever….
        and that renewable energy can supply California.
        There is no advantage or point in supplying California via fossil fuel plant any more… California will only move toward renewables and it will successfully supply its power that way.

      • It’s proof that California is governed by idiots. A perfectly functional, relatively new, already paid-for natural gas power plant will be demolished to make way for a new natural gas power plant and the most expensive battery farm in the history of the Galaxy… in a market that is already over-supplied with power and the consumers are forced to pay a premium for power they don’t need.

        All of this is being done to comply with California’s RPS and other idiotic environmental regulations. The soon-to-be demolished power plant is being condemned because it draws cooling water from the ocean.

  40. 18 cents/kwh?! Where in California is it that cheap? I know it’s an average, but I didn’t think anywhere in this state had electricity that cheap. Must be areas outside of the Bay Area. Depending on the tier, where I’m at on the Peninsula, it’s 22-44 cents kw/h. It was about the same 9 years ago when I was still living in San Jose.

    • The average ought to include subsidy farmers of car charging stations and industrial bulk buyers with tariffs that give them discounts for disconnection (local backup generators). That is not the average for home retail, as 19¢ is the lifeline lower bound in San Jose. Just another “Lie by using averages”.

  41. Looking at my latest bill from PG&E, I’m actually paying 23¢ per kilowatt hour once you add on all their incentives and taxes. Ugh…and that’s before peak summer AC demand hits. Damned expensive. (Tier 2 is 25¢ kwh even before all the taxes.)

  42. The table in the article actually shows the LOWEST electric rate that I pay in CA. I’m assigned a “quota” and when I exceed it (inevitably) I get Hawaii prices. Livin’ the dream. This more than anything else makes residential solar make sense in CA. I don’t know about people in other states, but not getting penalized and guilted with every utility bill is a sweet sweet luxury.

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