California Will Use Diesel This Summer to Help Keep Lights On

From Bloomberg

In a hilarious bit of irony:

California will allow PG&E Corp. to use diesel-powered mobile generators to keep some electricity flowing when the utility proactively cuts power to prevent live wires from sparking fires in high wind.

State regulators signed off Thursday on PG&E’s plan to use about 450 megawatts of diesel generation to power homes, businesses, hospitals and other critical facilities as part of the utility’s effort to reduce disruptions during the shutoffs.

After decades of neglect to both its electrical distribution and forest management, the tinderbox, known as California, continues to amuse.

Of course the virtue signaling must continue.

PG&E said it considered more environmentally-friendly options but they proved too costly or impractical to deploy in time this year. The company said its mobile generators can use fuel made from vegetable oil and that it will continue to explore cleaner alternatives for the coming years.

Full article can be found here.

HT/shrnfr

84 thoughts on “California Will Use Diesel This Summer to Help Keep Lights On

  1. so they will spot the generators around in towns, etc…..to avoid using the power lines to get the power there

    I thought these guys were broke….where did they get all the money for this dog and pony show?

    • They soak their customers. Just the green surcharge on my PGE was more per KWH than I pay here in Nevada and one many reasons I consider myself a California climate policy refugee.

    • ” thought these guys were broke….where did they get all the money for this dog and pony show?”

      Yes indeed.. since we ALL know that solar panels and batteries are WAY cheaper and also the new paradigm. Why don’t they use those?

    • They’ll use the money they save from defunding the cops. And, probably, then wonder why all the generators have ‘walked’.

      • LOL. And all this time we thought when they said “Climate Change” that they were talking about Earth’s Climate – you know, long term weather. But de-funding police, and letting rioters run amok, etc., etc. to bring on socialism is what they apparently really meant, in the same vain as Obama’s “We need Change” and “America, a great country, let’s Change it”.

  2. What probably is not mentioned is that with the regulatory approval to (1) use those big tractor trailer-size generators that (2) PG&E is also certainly being allowed to pass-thru those much higher generation costs to the consumer in their bills.

    ANother reasonable guess is this is essentially driven by desperate politicians (of both parties, but in Cal only one party really has any state-level power) not wanting to incur the wrath of the voters. IF they go thru a summer-fall fire season of black-outs they know there will be Hell to pay from the voters. So it’s “screw the emissions accounting nonsense… for now. ” And it’s a “let’s just get thru the election in November and hope the Vioters have forgotten how badly we F-ed things up with electrical reliability. ”
    The Left’s other cynical strategy seems to be, “Let’s keep them distracted them with things like COVID scares and ANTIFA thuggery.” That works only as long as the People have electricity, first and foremost.

    • Do you realize that electric utilities pay for diesel and or gas turbine generators after just a few days use selling during peak loads. I work at a utility and have heard the dispatchers talking about how they were getting $2,000 per kWh from surrounding utilities. Selling is now a large part if their business. We added a new division just do buying an selling electricity during these “Gold rushes.”

      • I think you mean $2,000/MWh. But yes, by selling into the spot market at peak loads, it is certainly a gold rush for the generators. The utilities are desperate because the alternatives to NOT paying those spot prices for immediate electricity are brown-outs and black-outs. Both of which are far more costly both to people’s jobs and to getting sued.

        Downin Green Valley just south of Tucson this week, the local provider, Tucson Electric Power, allowed phase voltages to go out of whack down there from asubstation, probably from too much solar power feeding in without spinning mass freq stabilization, and big A/C units (3-phase) burned up and caught fire all over the town in shirt order. The GV Fire Department and surrounded FD’s had to respond to multiple businesses with fires and smoke. Many big businesses have had to close for several days waiting costly A/C repairs. TEP is going to get sued for those damages.
        TEP needed to pay the surrounding solar farms to disconnect probably, that is pay them not to supply. Letting bad things happen to the grid voltages and freqs ends up costing the service providers far more than paying high prices for a few hours.

      • @_Jim, Michael.
        However, a Lrage part of this is caused by the requirements to have “Renewables.”

        • No. Absolutely meant KWH. They had to pay that amount for each KWH they bought for over four hours or curtail industrial users or have rolling blackouts. Every other utility around us was bidding for the same, only, source of power to prevent the same problems. As the percentage of Renewables increase these incidents increase. The “New Normal” is here. And highly aggravated by the closure of more than five nuclear power plants.

          • I think this is getting back to the absurdity of the Enron years, but only now instead of (criminally) intentionally kneecapping production and limiting supply, now the renewables and back-up generators are doing it, and if you want to balance your local grid, then you either pay absurdly for a few hours or start shedding loads at prime time. This will be a wake up call to the average no nothing consumer when the lights go out and people start asking why. Every bit as devious as Enron, except now state sanctioned. Many agendas going on at once, and an excuse to limit supply, or jack up prices through the roof. Crazy times are here, at many different levels! Social Engineering on steroids coming to a city near you.

    • They have already applied to recoup the costs-

      https://www.pge.com/pge_global/common/pdfs/your-account/your-bill/understand-your-bill/bill-inserts/2020/0220-Microgrid-OIR.pdf

      Our power pole was evaluated for meeting the new vegetative rules recently by a contractor for PG&E. The inspections and work are going to be passed onto me as well-

      https://www.pge.com/pge_global/common/pdfs/your-account/your-bill/understand-your-bill/bill-inserts/2020/0220-Interim-Rate-Relief.pdf

    • Assuming Denmark and California is on the same standard:
      Medium and large hospitals all have emergency backup and generators. They are integrated within the building complex.
      However, smaller hospitals may be without any emergency backup, which is a thing the Danish government is currently looking at, in conjunction with general investigation into the security in the hospitals.
      Ref.: from the Danish newspaper Politiken

      • I believe that Hospitals are notorious for lack of maintenance and exercise of said required generators, so when they need them they usually fail or require significant startup time.

        • Bill Marsh,

          Most business and hospitals purchase a maintenance option. These service companies change the oil and perform diagnostics. Then they fix anything that needs fixing. At least that is my experience. A lot of these guys who do this work are X-military. They know what they’re doing after working on monster Gen-Sets on ships and other power systems. Just thought I’d through my two cents in.

          Just an old electrician.

      • Carl Friis-Hansen,
        Your right about back-up generators. But any size building with invasive procedures is required to have a second source of power. That means small clinics too. This is U.S. code, don’t know about the Danish.

        Just an old electrician.

    • Climate believer,

      Hospitals are required to have back-up generators as part of their electrical system.
      When the power goes out, is when it gets interesting. There is a ten second generator start up time. Think operating room. During the ten seconds, rows of inverters are pumping out power to critical areas of the hospital. They’re all being fed by battery’s, some weighing a few hundred pounds, from a battery room somewhere in the building. After the ten second start up, the electrical load is transferred to the generators. So its a smooth, continuous transfer of power.
      Its impressive stuff.

      Just an old electrician.

  3. “explore cleaner alternatives for the coming years.” How about nuclear? Kalifornia has already given up on virtue signaling by going to diesel, why not just mail it in and go nuclear? Then those Antifa fanatics could blow it up, and you have a win-win deal.

    • They are ignorant of future power technologies, in particular molten salt small modular nucleaer reactors. These generators are cheaper than just about every other technology (4 cents per kWhr, levelized cost)
      and safer and can load follow, eliminating most need for peak power fossil fueled generation. But don’t expect CAlifornia to know how this technolofy will sweep the planet, replacing everything. Also, to significant note, electric cars will become more cost efficient than gas powered vehicles shortly – battery prices are now approaching the price points that allow EVs to compete WRT purchase price and battery lifespans will achieve 1 million miles this year. GM alone will produce 5 EVs in the coming year – Chevy, Hummer, Buick, Cadillac. The Buick SUV/CUVs are achieving 370 miles of driving range and fast charge
      to 80% in less than 40 minutes. Practical electric cars are HERE, or shortly will be.

      • When they make an EV Grand Cherokee 4×4 Jeep with a small diesel dedicated 40 Hp genset, and an easily replaceable affordable Li-ion battery battery that I can plug into my off grid 5th wheel trailer with 240 VAC, I am all in. Will pay good bucks for such. Solar panels on the roof of the RV can help charge the battery. Already have all this, except for the EV Jeep…but do have the 3.0 Mercedes diesel GC Deluxe Jeep circa 2008. Good solid economical vehicle. The new EV Jeep would make sense to me and could weld all day off the battery and never run out of juice as long as I had a barrel of diesel, and I am all set wherever I am for weeks in full comfort.

          • Yes, the Subaru 2020 Crosstrek Hybrid All Wheel Drive certainly looks interesting at $35K with a 90 MPG equivalent. Has a 8.7″ ground clearance and can travel using only the electric motor for up to 17 miles which would be great for 2/3 of all my local trips. The Crosstrek Hybrid fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons for a combined range of 480 miles in both modes. Damn, now I probably go buy one of these for my town crossover SUV. Can also do a slow charge on a 15 Amp 120 VAC plug which is all I have for a plug-in at my town condo, so would probably work out ok for a harsher winter environment. If I can tap the battery and put my own inverter on it, would be a good poor mans Jeep as I was describing my dream EV Jeep.

            https://www.subaru.com/vehicles/crosstrek/hybrid.html

      • Until a small MSR is actually operating as a utility, the costs per kWhr are yet to be determined as unknown construction issues, regulatory fees, and red tape could easily double the expected price.

        For electric cars, the claim of hopefully 80% in 40 minutes at home with a charger whose cost is not included is still competing against 100% in 5 minutes anywhere around the country. For short trips, practical electric cars are here, depending on the subsidies and electric costs. For completely replacing a family car, practical electric cars MIGHT be on the horizon, but a lot of that depends on if the gasoline taxes that are supposed to pay for highway repairs get incorporated into the registration fees for the electric vehicles.

        • For many homes, 80% in 40 minutes would have to include the cost of upgrading the electrical service to the home.

          • And once you get a sizable percentage of homes wanting to recharge their EVs, you then need to factor in the costs of transmission network upgrades to residential zones or else local storage batteries to shave the charging peak.

            Coordinated, “smart” charging will only work for a limited number of users.

      • re: “They are ignorant of future power technologies, in particular molten salt small modular nucleaer reactors. These generators are cheaper than just about every other technology (4 cents per kWhr, levelized cost)”

        Speaking of “future power technologies”, have they had one of these MSRs operate out to the 100 hour point in the last few years yet? Another group (BrLP) has had a several-hundred thousand watt (inaptly named) SunCell ™ engineering developmental unit run to the 100 hr point a few weeks back, is the reasojn I ask … the SunCell ™ looks to be able to beat 4 cents per kWh cost easily given a ‘costing’ analysis performed a few years back.

        • From Brillant Power’s website: “Brilliant Light Power has developed a new commercially competitive, non-polluting, plasma-based primary source of massive power from the conversion of hydrogen atoms of water molecules to dark matter, the previously unidentified matter that makes up most of the mass of the universe. ” I call bull-shit, at least on the dark matter bit.

        • Looked at SunCell (not traded) and the following (their case) wasn’t encouraging:
          FROM REACTION OF HYDROGEN TO DARK MATTER USING WATER FREELY AVAILABLE IN THE HUMIDITY IN THE AIR

          • Scientists don’t even know what dark matter is yet.
            However these guys claim to be producing it at commercially viable levels.

          • MarkW said it. I can’t find evidence that anyone has a dark matter detector yet. Understandable, since we only believe it exists because we need it to explain large anomalies between our theories and our measurements.

            SunCell is making some wild assertions.

      • ColMosby
        In China the cheapest electric car (2 seats) costs $1;000 but !!! A Chinese Co. Has produced a car that uses the magnetic gravity of the earth , free fuel

      • They haven’t even built one, yet they know precisely how much it will cost to run and maintain.

  4. Knock me over with a feather. Never thought the Regulators would allow cost effective readily available portable diesel generators when impractical expensive unreliable intermittent solar and wind is readily available at only 10 times, more or less, the cost. Remarkable. Let the protests begin.

  5. Same as the great State of South Australia which has diesel generators in the supply mix for peak power and stability as the so called renewables come and go.

  6. I suppose California will use renewable diesel from several of the new renewable/biofuel diesel made out of Soybean oil that are converting from refining crude oil to manufacturing biodiesel in rural flyover country. If the Chinese are going to renege on the Phase 1 trade deal, at least there will be a market for the Soybean crop. Like happened to the Canadian farmers when China quit buying the Canola crops one day in retaliation for arresting their girl from Huawei in Vancouver, awaiting extradition to the USA. The Canucks are now selling a lot of that unsold Canola to the European biofuel markets. China could only really do that because of the African Swine Fever decimating their hog markets, which was bad timing for the CAN/USA farmers. In the end, China will wind up paying more for Soybeans and Canola, just because it is now going into making diesel instead of feeding their domestic hog markets.

    So will China wind up subsidizing the Ag crops when they can’t buy enough from Brazil to meet their needs? They have a lot of people to feed, and when they get their hog markets back in production after the African swine fever that has wiped out a third of China’s pig population, (100 million hogs) they are going to need a lot of raw products and resources for everything from soup to nuts. That’s when we will have a captive market and can dictate to China, although the price of crude oil is so low now, it probably doesn’t make financial sense to be making biofuels from Ag crops.

    Maybe give the land a rest? Grow Alfalfa and make animal feed pellets for a few years and rebuild the soils? We sure do have a lot of Ag capacity in North America, to feed ourselves, much of the world and make biodiesel/ethanol out of the rest. I see another refiner is switching to making Aviation Jet fuel out of the Soy crop as well. Can be made out of corn ethanol as well, just switching a few of the long chain molecules around. Let’s hope we make China pay for any subsidy this must cost.

    “HollyFrontier’s Cheyenne Refinery will shift from refining petroleum to producing a diesel fuel made out of soybean oil, the company announced Monday.”

    https://cowboystatedaily.com/2020/06/01/cheyenne-refinery-to-shift-to-renewable-diesel-cut-200-workers/

  7. Be interesting to see if Oakland or any of the other counties suing Big Oil are using any electricity generated by fossil fuels. Are the Courthouses using such electricity? The Attorney General’s office?

    It seems that Kalifornia has just provided state’s evidence that instead of a “public nuisance”, those companies are in fact “essential”.

  8. Charging a 100 kwh battery (Tesla’s) largest) to 80% in 40 minutes would require 500 amps at the typical residential service 240 VAC. 60 amps at 240 volts would take 5.5 hours for an 89% charge. Residential service is generally limited to 200 amps. Providing for such “fast charging” of EVs would require massive infrastructure build out with high voltage high current equipment of the type that even professional electricians don’t like to work with. I, for one, do not want any electrical circuits in my house that operate at over 400 volts or require 000 wire.

    • Nice to see an engineers viewpoint. If you were on a 350mile trip and have to stop at a interstate stop to recharge, the stop would probably have to have at least three or four quick charge station. That means a service of 2000 amps or more. That’s huge no matter how you look at it. And four 40 minute stops on a long trip, e.g. St. Louis to Denver (Boonville, Ks City, Hays, and Denver) would add almost 3 hours to the trup.

    • re: “60 amps at 240 volts would take 5.5 hours for an 89% charge. Residential service is generally limited to 200 amps. Providing for such “fast charging” of EVs would require massive infrastructure build out ”

      Surprised a “PE” (maybe electric power is not your specialty?) isn’t familiar with electric load demand through a 24 hr day and night usage ‘cycle’. Off-peak charging moves that otherwise high demand to say the hours past 11 PM and into the typically low electric demand early morning hours. This is, after all 2020 A.D. and we can schedule this demand through associated supervisory apps in the car with its associated battery.

      Now, consideration of electric supply if EVERYONE gets into the act and buys an EV is another thing, but we can work out and plan things if that is the direction society heads in the future, BUT, thinking this way assumes, again, some “straight-line projections” into the future WHICH have a tendency to fail spectacularly.

      • @_Jim:
        Just how does the load shifting to off peak hours allow for a 40 minute to 80% fast charge without drawing 80 kwh in 40 minutes? I guess you could have another 100 kwh battery pack that charged slowly off peak and then do a battery-to-battery fast charge, but I haven’t seen any serious proposals to do this. I don’t see fast charging being realistic for home EV charging. Maybe for highway service centers, but never as efficient and quick as gasoline or diesel.

        • @Rick C PE

          You want to nitpick, Rick. I’m addressing the COMMUTER application of the EV’s (where they make some amount of sense) and your’re straining to ‘cover’ the case for the infrequent LONG-DRIVE EV use case.

          It should be obvious that EVs are not ready for prime-time use in cross-country driving. I still think you’re deficient in understanding what has been typical electric power demand over a 24 hr period in non-industrial use cases (i.e. residential areas.)

          • So electrics are only good for people who can afford two cars.
            One for commuting and one for everything else.

      • Rick was talking about the wiring inside the house.
        Upgrading the delivery system is another matter altogether.

    • There is also the “Demand” factor with most utilities. The demand factor usually make you pay the same for night time power as you do for day time power. So instead of 15 cents/kw at night you pay 25 cents when you exceed the demand. Worse, some utilities have several steps. A slow charge would defiantly put you into the “high “Demand” rate if using 240 and maybe even if using 120. The “Fast Charge” would definitely put you into the third or fourth step, and I would never use it at home.
      One city I lived in applied it to the entire bill, not just that day. My wife dried a load of clothes before 6:00 PM and our electric bill was twice the normal amount. I then bought a 240 volt timer and put it in the basement on the power line for the dryer. I pity those living in CA that have time of day and demand metering. They should be very careful about charging their EV or even hybrid.

      • California used to give you all your power at the lowest tier if you bought a home charging station for your electric car. I had a friend who bought a Tesla so that he could maintain his pool at a constant 87 degrees and pay for the whole property’s electric bill.

        He claimed the savings paid for his Tesla in 18 months. And, yes, it was a very large property.

  9. Same thing happened in South Australia. After an “environmentally friendly” Labor Govt in South Australia oversaw the destruction of the states only coal fired power station, a little later after a state blackout due to a wind storm (and a systemic failure of numerous wind farms – that is another bizarre story of its own), the Labor brains trust decided that diesel generators had to be located around the states city of Adelaide, but it even gets better. The now opposition Labor is blaming the now Liberal govt (in Australia Liberals are actually right of centre party), for envisaged higher electricity bills because the state imported higher priced power through an interstate interconnector and didn’t use the local gas fired power (at least they weren’t asking about the diesel gens). The fact that the Labor pollies appeared in a press conference and made these crazy statements with straight faces with no apparent self awareness, and I heard not a single journalist ask about their hypocrisy. Honestly you couldn’t make this stuff up.
    I think we must surely be getting close to peak stupid by now!

  10. In 2019 PG&E implemented 4 PSPS at our place in the Sierra foothills. The local water district is ready for the outages this year-

    “EID has 168 electrical service connections with PG&E. In 2019 the largest power shutoff event affected 125 of those connections. The outages compromised EID’s ability to pump water and wastewater, provide fire protection, generate hydroelectric power and operate the Sly Park Recreation Area.

    To plan for the upcoming fire season the district has taken a number of steps including investing in the permanent installation of generators. The district has 187 generators, 11 of which are mobile and can be moved around as needed.”….

    https://www.mtdemocrat.com/news/eid-planning-for-pge-power-shutoffs/

  11. Use the organic stuff, the ecological nutrient, the high-density energy resource. Don’t be green, go green, not Green.

  12. Where I work (in the UK) we have about 4.5mw of standby diesel generation which was also used to reduce our grid loading in peak and high demand times for which our Co was paid big time. This has now been reduced to a max of three/four times a year due to the ridiculous green regs (mainly EU inspired .Another good reason to get out) that have been imposed so now the power Co’s are desperately trying to keep the lights on. Last winter being mild helped a lot but if we get a cold one the grid will fail as Moonbeams and Unicorn farts won’t cut it.
    I suggest Anthony get himself a nice standby generator to keep this wonderful site going.

    James Bull

  13. I hope to see environmentalists or leftists using lawsuits to stop the use of the generators.

  14. Watermelons aren’t silly learning off South Australia with the threat of summer blackouts and an election in the offing but you have to take your hat off to Californian ones. Not even bothering to stick in a unicorn Tesla Big Battery along with the diesel gennys is really letting it all hang out.

    How are they doing with the police brutality thing because we might be calling up the uni type social workers in blue pretty soon if this keeps up and the blokes decide it’s all too hard-
    https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/sa-police-officers-assaulted/vi-BB15smFU

    We only introduced heavy penalties for the rise in attacking Emergency workers in October last year (you know the drunks and meth heads beating up on ambos and ED medics and nurses) so roll out the social workers to deal with them all and their new victimhood kumbayah meme-
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-20/nurse-allegedly-assaulted-in-spitting-attack-amid-coronavirus/12266392
    We live in interesting times with all these tertiary qualified middle class luvvy twits and Woke Taliban projecting the treatment of the underclass junkies and sundry villains onto their preciousses. Osama must be chuckling at the bottom of the ocean at all their current conniptions.

  15. PG&E is a heavily regulated, semi-governmental organization in a far left state. Of course anything they say will reflect the far left position.

  16. California claims its wildfires are getting worse (than ever before). There is a correlation here. Concomitant with California and nearby state wildfires (apparently?) being on the increase, California has been going “green”. The “greener” California gets, the worse the wildfires are.

    • Before anyone gets in a snit over my use of correlation, I’ll fix it: There is a correlation an observation here.

  17. I am glad I never worked for poorly managed ENRON or PG&E because I am enjoying a pension from a well managed company. So while I am not defending those companies most of the blame for power problems in California belongs to the people of California who elect idiots.

    I worked at a nuke plant in California that closed 30 years ago. Maybe California is not smart enough as a collective to have nuclear power.

  18. Ok, but which regulator signed off on this, the Public Utilities Commission? Fine for them, but those diesel generators are going to require stationary permits from the local air districts, which means if they dont have the permit yet they’re not going to have it before the summer peak hits. Even a Tier 4 Final engine may not meet the BACT requirement, and if it does it will still take time to demonstrate that. Offsets are still a requirement in any non-attainment area, and public notice and comment periods are still a thing. You might try to argue for the 60-day maintenance and repair period allowed under the state portable equipment registration program, which bypasses stationary permitting, but that merely raises the question of what, exactly, is being maintained and repaired? And I very much doubt that 60 days is going to be long enough anyway. Ultimately, while PUC may be happy, I don’t see the air districts waving this one through.

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