In CAISO Emergency Break Glass

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Here in the United California Socialist Republic, we have an insane bunch of laws about electricity. Number one among them is a “Renewables Mandate” that requires the local utility, Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE) to purchase a huge amount of expensive, unreliable solar, wind, and other renewable energy. So of course, our electricity price increases have far outstripped those of our more sane neighboring states.

(As a side note, under California law large hydroelectric dams are NOT counted as “renewable” under the Mandate … why not? Because if they counted hydro we’d already have met the Mandate … but I digress …)

And what to we get for this investment in expensive generation schemes?

Unreliable energy. Yesterday at about 6:30 PM, they shut off the power to our entire neighborhood for three hours. Of course the public claim was that the hot weather just made it so the poor system couldn’t keep up, darn it, so we’re sorry but rolling blackouts are the new normal starting now … just kidding, they started before the announcement.

I assure you I was as surprised as our neighbors … started my little 2KVA Honda generator, strung out the extension cords, and got back to my life. Although I must confess, I did say some bad words, and I fear that I stated both clearly and loudly that the people in charge of this goatrope could go engage in anatomically improbable sexual congress with themselves and the horse they rode in on …

But this morning, I had a more sober thought, one I should have had the night before, one you might have already had, which was …

… if this pinche rolling blackout is because of the heat, why didn’t it start until after six PM, well past the heat of the day?

My next thought was, “It’s those cabrones with their abysmal renewable energy.” So I set out to see if it’s true.

In California, all of this is handled by something called “CAISO”, the California Independent Systems Operator. Here’s their graph of yesterday’s renewables generation, from the CAISO site:

Figure 1. Total generation by each type of renewables in California, August 14, 2020.

As you can see, the total of geothermal, biomass, biogas, small hydro, and wind is sweet Fanny Adams … and now, notice when the solar started to run out in the evening. Just about the time that our power went out.

But as we know, correlation is not causation. So here’s the other relevant CAISO chart, showing the net demand with and without renewables …

Figure 2. Net demand for electricity in California, split out by the type of generation of the electricity

Gotta laugh about the fine print where they brag about how they “maintain reliability while maximizing clean energy sources” …

Anyhow, there you have it. Here’s the bottom line.

If you add ten gigawatts of solar energy to your grid as shown in Figure 2 above, you perforce, must, need to, have to, add ten gigawatts of conventional fossil energy to cover times like yesterday when renewables simply don’t cut it …

And it is the ignoring of that fact above all that allows people to claim that renewables are ready for the market. They are absolutely not ready without huge ongoing subsidies and full fossil backup, and in the end, they are simply not up to the job.

ALL of this is the total and complete fault of the Democrats who have run this state since forever … too bad. When I was a kid it was a great place to live.

VOTE! The only solution to this nonsense is to throw them out on their ear. It’s not going to fix itself. Here’s today’s story.

Hot again today … not looking forward to the evening …

w.

PS—Again I ask, when you comment please quote the exact words you are discussing. This avoids all kinds of misunderstandings.

227 thoughts on “In CAISO Emergency Break Glass

    • True, Jorge. You know how people say “Don’t do as we say, do as we do”?

      For California, you don’t want to do either one. Big mistake. Do NOT be like us.

      w.

      • voting does not work. here in Australia we have a similar system of renewable energy requirements for power companies (they are forced to buy LGC or large scale generation ceritificates which are blocks of renewable energy) and our price has been artificially high because of it, though you wouldnt know it by the news media who constantly plug the “our prices will reduce because of renewables”. lies.

        anyhow, we voted out every politician that mentioned a carbon tax, we voted in anyone that opposed such a thing, yet here we are, in the background this all chugs along and the average voters are none the wiser. none of our leaders have the balls to tell people the truth because of once again the news media.. they rule this country.

        • “we voted out every politician that mentioned a carbon tax”

          IIRC, Malcolm Turnbull didn’t get voted out – he got rolled by his party.
          (And should have happened much, much earlier)

          • the choice was gone by the time turnbull come in. even abbott agreed to the paris con trying to suck up to the media, but where did that get him? he thought it would be bad for his image following the so called minority, which are not the minority by a long shot. this is the way the media control things.. make themselves seem to be the majority, when in fact their views are more often than not just based on leftist claptrap, most likes, most views etc.

        • You need a Trump. My guess is that, when the people get sufficiently fed up, you’ll get one.

          In Canada, the Conservatives let down the west. The result was the Reform Party. It ended up subsuming the old Progressive Conservative party.

          When the party elites think they run the show, the people often find a way to show them they’re wrong.

        • Screenshotted your comment to send to lefty relatives who know nothing of this and genuinely think RE is cheaper than fossil fuels. Applies to U.K./Europe too.

      • Willis, you live in the USA. You could go live in any state. Why do you put up with it? The oldest truest statements are if “elections made any difference they would be banned”, and “vote with your feet.”

        • Wilis,
          You are living in a paradise on earth .
          Come over to Germany where the police work for the politicians and the time date is pre 1939 the world’s most expensive energy

          • Yeah. I remember a couple years ago your nuke energy being shut down. I wonder how much of the overpricing comes from that nuke shutdown.

      • Light a candle Eschenbach and enjoy the natural light.

        Go for a three hour ride in your air conditioned car.

        You have it too good — renewable energy requires some suffering.

        Don’t you care about our planet and the children?

        Well I do and I will never complain about blackouts in California.

        Of course I live in Michigan.

        I’m surprised your state did not blame Trump or COVID.

        The real cause is the well known fact that living in California causes the IQ to drop one point per year.

        So write lots of good articles while you can
        Eschenbach … or get out of there.

        • I fear you are correct…I’ve lived in California for so long, I’ve gone from smarter than the average bear to a complete loon. Will the effects reverse if I leave the state?

          • Bill O.
            My family grew up in NY and all moved to CA except me, moving to Michigan.

            Most of them eventually moved out of California but the effects of living there seem to be permanent.

            I used to visit CA often in the 1990s until the street beggars in Sausalito made that town unfriendly. It must be much worse now along with San Francisco. I wouldn’t go there today if you gave me a free airline ticket.

      • “VOTE! The only solution to this nonsense is to throw them out on their ear. It’s not going to fix itself. Here’s today’s story.”

        Love your work Willis, but this line drove me over the edge to seek refuge in H L Menken quotes:

        ” The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

        ” Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”

        ” Sometimes the idiots outvote the sensible people.”

        ” People do not expect to find chastity in a whorehouse. Why, then, do they expect to find honesty and humanity in government, a congeries of institutions whose modus operandi consists of lying, cheating, stealing, and if need be, murdering those who resist?”

        ” The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

        ” Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
        H. L. Mencken

        Stay safe. No Fear.

      • Willis, I’m doing my best to work up a lather over your situation, but I keep getting mesmerized by visions of “anatomically improbable sexual congress with themselves and the horse they rode in on …”

        Your advice to NOT be like Kali is well taken. Would that all your fellow residents would follow it.

        • Dan Hawkins August 16, 2020 at 10:49 am

          Willis, I’m doing my best to work up a lather over your situation, but I keep getting mesmerized by visions of “anatomically improbable sexual congress with themselves and the horse they rode in on …”

          Glad you enjoyed that particular bit of wordsmithery. I spent some time hammering it into its final shape, so it’s always wonderful when someone notices.

          Regards,

          w.

      • CAISO has been complaining for years about the “duck neck” curve, but never in clear enough language for the elected politicians to get the message that this cannot be made to work.

    • Quelle surprise! In 2002 Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton U and Allan MacRae TOLD YOU SO 18 YEARS AGO:

      friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/KyotoAPEGA2002REV1.pdf
      1. “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”
      See Michael Shellenberger’s 2020 confession “On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare”. quillette.com/2020/06/30/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare/
      2. “THE ULTIMATE AGENDA OF PRO-KYOTO ADVOCATES IS TO ELIMINATE FOSSIL FUELS, BUT THIS WOULD RESULT IN A CATASTROPHIC SHORTFALL IN GLOBAL ENERGY SUPPLY – THE WASTEFUL, INEFFICIENT ENERGY SOLUTIONS PROPOSED BY KYOTO ADVOCATES SIMPLY CANNOT REPLACE FOSSIL FUELS.”
      See Michael Moore’s 2020 film “Planet of the Humans”. youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE

      The green objective is to destroy prosperity and move the USA into a planned economy – with a few rich at the top looking down on the many poor peasants. That model now describes most of the countries in the world. Europe and Canada are far down that “road to Venezuela”, and the USA will follow if Biden and the Demo-Marxists are elected.

      • Sadly yes, it was never about the environment, but rather about a method to bring about world socialist/communist utopia.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-cdE729ONc

        “THIS is how world elites plan to force National Socialism on PRIVATE BUSINESSES”

        Beck may be regarded poorly by some, but his track record of predictions based on his digging is impressive – he predicted most of what is going on right now, a decade ago….

        Ironically, the powers that want to bring about this nightmare model it after Brave New World, seeing that cautionary tale as a blueprint, not a warning!

  1. “But this morning” . . .

    Don’t leave us hanging now, be like Paul. What’s the rest of the story?

    • The oddly named “net demand” graph is interesting. It validates a remark I made on the other thread about cloud being a problem. The real problem is thermal inertia. Land and buildings store heat, so the need for A/C does not go down as soon as the sun does.

      The best that solar does is reduces the amount of reliable energy consumed, but you still need the generation capacity.

      • Greg,

        It’s indeed an interesting graph, i think the problem is a bit more subtle though. To me it demonstrates that if your ramp-up speed is less then the ‘fall-off’ speed (how fast the solar generation reduces) you will have blackouts no matter how much generating capacity you have on standby. Averages and endpoints won’t help with this.
        I wonder how many peaker plants are needed to catch these daily swings?

        Oh and btw, if the law states that you are required to have sufficient ‘reserve’ available cutting off peoples power does not remedy that as the demand is still there, someone should sue over this.

        All the best,
        Willem

    • More like the Banana Republic of California and why I consider myself a California climate policy refugee where I pay less per KWH than the PGE green surcharge, less than half the cost per therm for natural gas
      and more than $1 per gallon less for gasoline. No state income tax here either and the best parts of California are just minutes away.

  2. So we californicators can have renewable energy (as a pearl of great price) at unreliable times make some contribution to meeting electrical demand as an additional source to reliable standard fossil fueled and hydroelectric generation. What could be a problem in that plan?

    • Yes…

      And ask the bigger questions. Do the green schemes reduce CO2 emissions? They just move the emissions around.

      The money wasted on the green schemes is not a joke. Big increase in electrical prices.

      What real, tangible benefits are there from installing the green stuff?

      Planet of the Humans
      https://www.bitchute.com/video/KQnVEMOOYuJd/

      The green schemes’ care bear fake analysis, does not include the energy cost and CO2 cost for the new power lines, substations, power conversion stations, pipelines, and out of state power plants that feed the mess.

      Nor do they include the loss of energy to ship gas and transmit electric power, thousands of miles (around 35% of the energy supplied for both long distant natural gas pipelines and long distance electrical power systems with system to system connections/multiple power conversions).

      The green schemes do not work if all costs, all energy losts, and so are taking into account. Fake engineering calculations is pathetic.

      Obviously to anyone, the green schemes have absolutely failed.

      The green schemes are damaging the environment…. and the green schemes cannot fix or change, climate change.

      If we were concerned about the environment we would installed combined cycle natural gas plants and liquid fuel nuclear reactors. Lowest possible CO2 emissions, if that made a difference which it does not.

      CAGW is a fake problem with a fake solution, that is impossibly expensive.

      So you would think when a country is fighting for its existence, we could make the CAGW problem go away.

  3. Sorry dude, but you have no vote in the CSSR. Your vote was diluted many times over with 3rd world immigrants 30 years ago. And with that, you’ve been gerrymandered to a one party system. So vote, don’t vote. It makes no difference.

    • Mark,
      Do only white votes count? Or only the votes of people born in the USA. Legal Immigrants are citizens and are as entitled to vote as anyone not matter what country they came from originally.

      • Not really, a legal immigrant must first become a citizen.

        The CaliRedUniParty is fond of vote harvesting these days, they made it legal to keep Das Machina running.

      • The troll immediately jumps to the conclusion that the original poster is a racist. How socialist of you.

        • Hi Mark,
          Find a non-racist interpretation of “diluted many times over by 3rd world immigrants”?

          • Only racist here is you Izaak.

            You see racism anywhere you choose to, because it is part of being a leftist/socialist.

          • It is of course R A C I S T ! ! !
            to say that people should not be allowed to violate our immigration laws.

            Every future Democrat voter must be welcomed and provided with free healthcare. Give them a drivers license and admonish them that wink wink nudge nudge, even though they could use it to vote, that would be a technical ahem violation.

            You’re a real piece of work Izaak, bless your little heart.

          • Rich, the sad thing is that Izaak not only can’t see his own racism, but like most other socialists, assumes that he is pure as the driven snow.

      • Izzak, you seem to believe that only non-whites can create a third-world country. Not only is your comment a display of ignorance, but the most racist comment I have ever seen on this site.

      • In reply to:
        Izaak Walton’s

        “Do ….. votes count?” Great question. Will voting save our country? Save our country from what?

        Translation: Do elections matter? Democracy 101.

        What happens when a party fails/rots/socializes/anti-American/too many special interest groups/stuff that absolute does not work like defund the police and fight over statues/green scams, in the democratic system?

        Isaac,

        You have so many great questions. You are the first Left wing thinker.

        What does it ‘mean’ when a party (in the US there are two ‘parties’) pushes a candidate who is a walking sad example of dementia?

        Biden has had two strokes, the last this year on camera and his word choice or lack of conceptual understanding that is evident in his word choice..

        … is unequivocal evidence that Biden would fail a simple cognitive test. Which explains why Biden refuses to take a cognitive test.

        In the old Soviet Union, when there were too many fractions and no strong candidate,….

        … the fractions who pulled the strings, would pick a brain dead stand-up man, to head up the Soviet Union. Someone with failing health….

        Biden brags he is too politically savvy to take a cognitive test.

        https://news.yahoo.com/biden-asks-reporter-hes-junkie-155458897.html

        When asked for a response to Donald Trump, who has bragged about passing a cognitive test and made Mr Biden’s mental state an issue for voters, the former vice president dismissed the question as trying to provoke a reaction.

        “No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test?” Come on, man. That’s like saying you, before you got on this program, you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?,” Mr Biden said.

        When asked for a response to Donald Trump, who has bragged about passing a cognitive test and made Mr Biden’s mental state an issue for voters, the former vice president dismissed the question as trying to provoke a reaction.

        “Well, if he can’t figure out the difference between an elephant and a lion, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Did you watch that — look, come on, man,” he said, in reference to Mr Trump’s cognitive test discussed during an interview with Fox News.

        “I know you’re trying to goad me, but I mean . . . I’m so forward-looking to have an opportunity to sit with the President or stand with the President and the debates.”

  4. Do yourself a favor & vote with your feet Willis. Walk away from that NUTHOUSE. A lot of sane places still left here in the States.

      • Yes, but I wonder how long Nevada will last before it gets Californicated. It’s already happened to Colorado, parts of Texas and Idaho, etc. I never could understand why the Californians, when they migrate, soon turn their destination into what they left.

        • Many people from a failed area do the same thing. They simply refuse to believe that the failures stem from their culture and beliefs, not the land they are fleeing.

        • Some here do complain about the loony left Californians invading, including me. None the less, I see more signs and bumper stickers supporting Trump then Biden and best of all, the roads aren’t clogged by virtue signalers in their Prius plastered with Biden bumper stickers and Hellary stickers they never removed from 2016.

          We do have a Democratic Governor and 2 Democratic Senators and they all need to go, especially the governor who had the unmitigated gall to override the judgment of physicians and patients by issuing a policy that hydrochloroquine couldn’t be prescribed for China virus patients.

          I can only hope that when people move out of the Progressive Socialist bubble, they will start to realize that the hardships imposed on them by California’s Socialist leadership are completely unnecessary and counterproductive, the most obvious of which are excessively high energy costs and an exorbitant state tax.

      • Even Elon Musk, who never met a government subsidy he did not like, has had enough of California and is building Tesla’s new plant in Texas.
        Power outages are the least of California’s problems. State and Local government can only function with the economy running at full capacity (and growing). Many businesses, restaurants in particlar can not function running at 50% or even 75% capacity. Tax revenue is going to stay down.

        • I was reading an article yesterday about a large number of wealthy people who have become fed up with the drop in the quality of life they have experienced over the last few decades. They no longer feel safe, and are leaving.

          • …so they will move to a Republican state… and vote democrat. Liberalism is a mental disorder.

          • Those proclaiming themselves as liberals don’t know the meaning of the word based on their promotion of policies that are as anti-liberty as possible. Liberalism isn’t the disease. The oxymoron called Progressive Socialism is what infected the Democratic party and was passed on to many of its voters whose logical defenses were deceived into believing that Progressive Socialism is a Liberal ideology.

            The media is largely responsible for poisoning minds with the Marxist fantasy of Progressive Socialism. Much of its recent success has been the benefit of their relentless campaign of prejudicial hate against Trump for no other reason than because he’s not a Democrat.

  5. As you noted, every gigawatt of intermittent power needs a gigawatt of conventional back-up, so then the value of that intermittent power is at most the avoided cost of fuel for the back-up system.

    • Not true, hence the blackouts.

      It’s a pity this does not affect only those who wish to use (or not use in this case) renewable power.

      (Written from renewable-plagued South Australia)

        • Paul Johnson
          August 15, 2020 at 9:03 pm

          Let me share a thought here, Paul.

          As it seems the main problem is the lack of main base load of energy consumption not secured in Cal.

          In technicality of solar power in the grid,
          it does not make any diference.

          It still consist as the Cal grid not being able to support the peek hour demand,
          simply as it has no secured energy from the production, for peek hour.

          It is a peek hour problem, regardless of solar.
          Less energy and higher cost energy from importing.
          Can’t have enough energy imported from other States, or the interstate connection.

          The solar, wind and small hydro simply have created the situation of very high energy cost leading to very bad management of energy security for the Red Rep. of Cal.
          That is what happens in the case of centralized dictation over economy, trade and energy.

          How much this silly expensive duds produce or not at any given time is completely irrelevant to the grid, as such as simply parasitic at any point in time.
          In case of solar more so during the day light peek.
          Either the solar there, or not, it does not much matter.
          What matters is that when the peek hour comes, no enough energy there.
          If Cal can not afford to supply at the peek demand, either because it is very costly,
          or because there is not even enough from the import at that, to support the Cal demand,
          then a controlled black out will happen, and issued accordingly,
          usually some thing that is every day normal in third world countries.

          Lack of proper energy security means very high and ever increasing energy cost,
          very high risk for grid management, in technical, financial and economical terms.

          If you can’t afford it, for whatever reason, you make cuts here and there,
          or else others will cut it for you from the main “source”.

          California literally seems not able or capable to pay the full electricity bill.
          Very very poor… and sad.

          cheers

    • There’s not much avoided fuel cost. The back-up system has to be kept on hot stand-by so that it can kick in when needed.

      • “There’s not much avoided fuel cost. The back-up system has to be kept on hot stand-by so that it can kick in when needed.”

        But, if a big battery can cut in and when needed for 15 minutes or so, wouldn’t the back-up system be able to get going from a cold start? Thereby saving fuel costs.

          • Because that way crony capitalists can suck down lots of taxpayer- and ratepayer-funded subsidies. Then in turn the cronies kick back some of the money that they legally stole from us back to the scumbag politicians who keep the scam in place. The scumbag politicians at the same time buy as many non-productive voters as they can to ensure that the productive citizens remain enslaved to their system.

            Having just one reliable system would not provide any of those vital benefits.

          • Indeed Ben but even better word your comment “Why have three systems when one which actually works could cover all eventualities?

            I am still amazed that these loony solar and wind systems get installed with subsidies by the economically illiterate of the left and that the fools don’t seem to understand the results of their actions when the blackouts hit.

          • DING DING DING!! We have a winner.

            No need to waste resources on stupendously useless and unsustainable “renewables” and “batteries” when fossil fuels and nuclear can do the job better by themselves.

          • stewartpid, I think you underestimate them. Many of then do understand the results of their actions and just don’t care. They’re not doing it for the good of the people or the good of the planet, they’re doing it for the good of themselves. They’re in it for the money/power pure and simple.

        • It takes hours to start from a cold start.

          Regardless, enough batteries to power the region for 15 minutes would cost even more than the wind mills and solar panels.

          • Timo, with unreliables, just as there are times when they don’t produce enough power there are also times when they actually produce too much power (IE more than is needed). Those times would be when the hypothetical batteries could be charged. Not that it matters, as MarkW points out you’d need a lot more than 15 minutes of power, and the cost of the batteries to power the region just for 15 minutes would be prohibitively expensive, let alone for the actually amount of time that would be needed.

    • Apples and Oranges, but yes it’s all fruit: backup power is a lot more expensive than standard baseload power. Baseload is designed to be on all the time, so it’s designed to be efficient and cheap like a modern clean coal plant or the natural gas plants with the extra stages to get more energy out of every m3 than ever before – but they take forever to warm up and get up to speed. Backup and peaking plants are smaller and have less ‘thermal inertia’, so to speak, they are designed to produce power right away, and it ends up being much more expensive and wasteful, turning on and off according to how the winds blow.
      Would probably be cheaper to build proper baseload power plants for all the power requirements, and just run the renewable energy through a big resistor. People would have reliable electricity and the political whores could subsidize their donors, without the expense and stress of dealing with blackouts.

      • PCman999-

        Your comment “just run the renewable energy through a big resistor.” is a brilliant idea! Use the heat from the resistors to preheat the water going into the boiler of the coal or NG power plant. This method has been used in boilers since, like, forever. The devise used is called an “economizer.” An economizer uses the waste heat in the boiler exhaust stack to preheat the feed water going into the boiler.

        So don’t put the electricity generated from solar or wind into the grid, Use it to provide heat to a boiler economizer. The variation in output from wind or solar is then directly made up for by changes in the amount of fuel to the boiler.

        In actuality of course the wind and solar would be feed into the grid, and the economizer powered from the grid. Yes, lots of transmission losses. But still lots cheaper than trying to store the electricity in a battery.

  6. ” Yesterday at about 6:30 PM, they shut off the power to our entire neighborhood for three hours.”

    A news item dated August 14 from KRON TV (San Francisco) declared that “The power will be turned off in rotating blocks until about 11 p.m. Power could be out for about one hour for each block.”

    Is this two-hour time difference CAISO’s misinformation, or KRON’s?

    • That’s a big difference. A one-hour blackout just stops almost all productive work for an hour. That’s bad enough. But three hours starts to threaten the food in your refrigerator and freezer.

      If you anticipate more blackouts, it can help to:

      1. Set the freezer temperature to its coldest temperature. (Sure, that’ll use slightly more electricity, but it’s probably a lot cheaper than having to discard your food.)

      2. Maximize the thermal mass in your refrigerator and freezer. Jugs of water and freezer gel packs both work for that.

      Air space warms quickly, solids and liquids warm much more slowly, so keep your refrigerator and freezer full of something, even if it is just jugs of water.

      In the freezer, gel packs are probably slightly better than water jugs, not because they absorb more heat (they don’t), but because they’re formulated with lower freezing/melting points, so, if you freeze them solid, as they warm their latent heat absorption will occur below 0°C, which helps to keep things in the freezer from melting.

      3. Keep enough essentials (beverages, snacks, medications) outside of the refrigerator so that you won’t need to open it during the power outage. Then, when the power is out, make sure that you do NOT open it. (You could stick a yardstick through the refrigerator door handles, to remind yourself to not open it.)

      • Re freezers: we keep freezers at -20C. The reason is that we could do enzyme chemistry on tissues kept below -20 literally for years without loss of activity. To keep food preserved, you need to keep enzymes inactivated – that is what produces loss of quality. You also have to ensure that anything with fat in it is protected with enough plastic that it cannot oxidize, and anything with water in it from drying.

        A decent modern freezer should not drop more than 1 degree an hour, so 3 hours is not great, but not a disaster. If your freezer warms faster than that, get a new one.

  7. Since the information is provided by some autonomous organization it begs the question where, how do the include or account for the large amount of home owned solar panels and include it into this data? Or do they just ignore it and rely on their load? Does CA require home owned panels to transmit usage data ot the power providers? From what I have read I recall that there is at least 25,000 mw or 25 GW. That is twenty nuclear power plants. I recall that when I lived in Sacramento, that when the sun dropped below the mountains, it was like someone had shut off the lights. Losing 25 GW in a short period of time is a Large number of fossil plants to get up and running in less than a half hour. These would need to be started up and ready to take load rather quickly and DAILY. That is very wasteful of the fossil fuel and greatly increases maintenance on the plant. Heat up and cool downs cause work hardening of steam systems, and early failure, Very similar to bending a paper-clip back and forth. And thousands of miles of transmission lines for “renewable” power for renewable power sake is another disaster waiting to happen, just like “Camp Fire.” There will be another and another.

    • I had the same question as you guys. It’s not clear to me that they can measure solar generated power “beyond the meter”. Do they estimate it? Ignore it?

      • Ed Bo – here in Oz the energy management organisation (AEMO) displays similar stats, and as they do not/cannot get data on domestic solar generation, they calculate it as the difference between network total supply (other than household PV) and total demand. You could do the same.

    • “Since the information is provided by some autonomous organization it begs the question”

      The way you’re using it, should be “raises the question”. Begging the question is something else.

      • I’ve given up on “begs the question”.
        The new meaning seems more useful than the original, to be fair.
        “Decimate” is another that I’ve let go.

        But I’ll never compromise on “Should of done”!
        And “zoology”, should be pronounced “zoe – ology”, not “Zoo – ology” (It’s the ology of zo”)

        I’ll get my coat! 🙂

      • It’s only something else in formal usage. Language changes (I know, that’s a concept you have a hard time grasping), and the formal use of the phrase has long since gone out of fashion and the way he used it is much more common. Grammer Nazi him all you want, that won’t change the way the phase is used in modern times.

  8. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    Thank you, Mr. Eschenbach.

    Although it will be ignored, I have asked NPR to correct their report on this incident and amend it to mention the fact that the California ISO specifically attributed the shortage of electricity to the inability of the state’s solar electricity generators to produce power due to clouds and darkness.

    As incredible as it may sound, NPR somehow failed to mention that inconvenient fact in it report (oops, I meant propaganda piece) on the rolling blackouts.

  9. From the Associated Press report (oops, I meant propaganda piece) which tries very hard to imply that the rolling blackouts are the result of (you guessed it) “climate change.”

    “…A power outage caused a pump to fail at a wastewater treatment plant in Oakland, resulting in a sewer backup and the release of some 50,000 gallons of raw sewage into a waterway, the East Bay Municipal Utility District said.

    The district said the outage began around 5 p.m. Friday, more than an hour before the rolling outages occurred, and sewage began to spill early Saturday. The agency said the sudden outage affected its ability to connect to backup power at the plant and during that time, workers were dealing with flooding while trying to restore power…”

    • “A power outage caused a pump to fail” – the pump ‘stopped’ due to lack of power, it did not fail.

      How does an outage of primary power stop the connection of backup power as a mains outage is what backup power is there for?

      It would be poor engineering if backup power relies on mains power to enable the change-over.

      • Keep in mind that current household roof solar installations are not independent from the grid. They are synchronized to the grid and will shut down if the grid power is down. That is simply because they are not capable of or designed to maintain voltage and frequency on an isolated grid segment. They also do not supply power to the house when the local grid is down.

        • I thought with grid-linked solar panels the system shuts down to prevent the back-flow of current into the grid so as to protect utility workers. To have solar power independent of the grid you need to be ‘off the grid’ and back-up batteries. Whole different kind of set up.

          • Wamba,
            Yes that is true of course but that is a common sense safety issue. Providing backup power to an isolated distribution grid segment from home solar systems is not practical so no effort has been made to design that capability in those system. As you say, it is a whole different kind of setup.

      • If the backup unit is a diesel generator, there are probably regulations limiting when it can be started.
        If it had not been started for a while, chances are that it would not start easily.

    • Oakland should check out those natural gas powered electricity generating things that automatically kick on when the grid stops sending reliable energy to them. /s/
      Seriously, a well known manufacturer sells units in 70kW and 100kW flavors. One of those should do the trick.

      • A local company here in the UK suffered a power outage a few years ago on a Saturday so all their computer systems crashed.
        Easy answer, start up the backup generator.
        Their only problem was that no-one could remember how to start up the backup generator.
        From then on the backup generator was started up once a month and run for an hour.
        The director responsible for ensuring a reliable supply was sacked.

  10. The most galling impact of unreliable power generation systems is that they are just absolutely, definitely, 100% UNNECESSARY.

    • I expect that the surrounding supplier states didn’t have any power to spare, as their own citizens had turned down the thermostat on their air conditioners during this regional dangerous heat wave.

      • Jim just before the black out hit my area I checked the pricing page at CASIO it said this-

        08/14/2020
        Hour: 18-19
        Day ahead market below 15 minute market was at 1000,
        WISE2_7_B1
        TYPE: GEN
        REGION: ISO
        Locational Marginal Price (LMP)$878.76
        PRICE BREAKDOWN
        Congestion:
        −$61.49
        Energy:
        $934.92
        Losses:

        We lost power for 3 hours during the rolling black out. We ran our generator for two of the hours. We are use to having unreliable power in the foothills. We went through 4 PSPS’s last fall. The generator got a good work out last year.

        • Are those prices $ per MWh wholesale? I.e., a price of “$880” is 88¢/kWh?

          Whew! Here in NC, retail is about 11¢/kWh, so I imagine wholesale averages about half that.

  11. Is Santa Barbara included in the rotating power cuts?

    Asking for a new resident of the area…

  12. Contestant 1: “Alex, I’ll take “Things Obama might have said” for $800.”
    Alex: “NewSpeak to how renewable power affected California’s electric grid reliability.”
    Contestant: “What is: “If you like your power black outs you can keep your power black outs.””
    Alex: “correct response. Go again.”

    Contestant 1: “Alex, I’ll take “Things Obama might have said” for $1,000.”
    Alex: “Renewable electricity mandates resulted in this to Californian’s electric bills.”
    Contest 1: “What is, “Under my plan electricity bills will necessarily skyrocket.”
    Alex: “correct response. Go again.”

    Apparently the People like getting lied to and paying more for it.
    Keep voting “D” America. Keep voting “D” for more of this insanity.

  13. Also remember the restrictions California utilities have with respect to moving power from one area to another. There have been no major transmission projects in some time (NIMBY moved to BANANA – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Nor Anytime), in spite of increasing demand. Existing transmission systems, when operating at peak loads during summer have drooping wires due to resistance heating from the high loads, and can start fires, since right of ways are not allowed to be cleared of vegetation. The utilities are sued by aggressive lawyers, and can go bankrupt. Then utilities keep loads on lines below what used to be transmitted, adding restraints to the systems.

  14. California’s gas fleet peaked in 2013 with just over 47,000 MW of gas capacity, but California has shed roughly 5,000 MW of gas capacity since then. Not to .mention a large nuke and the scheduled Diablo nuke decommissioning. Ain’t seen nothing yet.

    • Isn’t one of the troubles with California that they have allowed no new gas lines, or fraccing, so when the gas turbines run up, they are all sucking on the same small pipework system?

  15. Hopefully they will locate the homes of all the government folks in Sacramento and rotate the blackouts for them to enjoy.

  16. Nice write up. Most places demand is down due to COVID restrictions. Do you think the problem would be worse with typical conditions?

  17. Willis:
    Nice post about the reality of unreliable energy sources.
    Another example from the EIA.org database from [IIRC] ~ Feb 2019 a cold snap in Minnesota where is was -15 degrees for days, and wind & solar electrical output was near zero for days.
    The only thing that saves your powers-that-be is the delightful California climate which will
    return in a few weeks so as to not make this energy cock-up quite so obvious. It was 110 today here in AZ.
    btw What do you do to keep the Honda’s carb from getting gummed up from the
    storage of gasoline?

  18. Shucks, now I’m wondering if my cuz near Woodside has a genset available. He didn’t last time I visited, and it’s too forested (lovely redwoods!) for house-top solar or wind to work. There is “Windy Hill” though, only a few Km away…

  19. There is a simple solution to the rolling blackouts, in a smart grid each consumer can be turned on or off remotely, register all those who vote Democrat or greens or in Australia Labor, greens and when electricity demand exceeds supply turn off those people. These are the people who voted for all this so called renewable energy, they should be the ones to suffer the consequences of their stupidity, the rest of us can get on with our lives.

    • At one time I heard of plan for government to remotely control your thermostat, so you would have no control of it in times near peak demand.

      • Ah yes, the “Smart Grid” – the newest way for the Eco-Nazis to control EVERYTHING.

  20. Just wait to more EVs come, and people plug in those cars around 6pm when they get back from work, just when sun going down.

    • Then V2G will ensure that any remaining charge will be drawn down to support the grid. Cycle to work tomorrow.

  21. Thanks for the info Willis, very helpful and timely! I’m just to the north of you in Vallejo. We were without power for about 3 hours as well. The grid layout is puzzling because some neighborhoods here were power down yet others stayed power up. The outage was so wide spread I’m having difficulty imagining how the electric grid is divided up. Any way, have a great evening! Cheers

    • The grid in your neighbourhood wasn’t down because of some sort of failure. It was down because somebody flicked a switch. South Australia has a roster of suburbs that will get the flick next. Obviously it doesn’t include any suburbs where important people (Labour & Greens MPs) live.

      • Not so.

        Load shedding is on a rotation basis with feeders supporting major infrastructure such as Hospitals and shopping malls excluded. If you want to keep the power on make sure that you or on the same line as a hospital, sewage plant or major shopping centre.

        The premier got the boot a few years ago and wasn’t happy. My guess is the list is going to get used in Autumn 2021 from too much PV where the problem is going rather than too little power during heat waves. Note the AEMO panic starting to set in.

  22. At least small hydro, if the watershed has water, is base load spinning reserve 24/7 renewable electricity, as explained by California regulations limiting small hydro to 15 mW and less than 1 hour of water storage availability. The water season for run of river is probably winding down in this weather and summer season. I have been doing 100 Kw of small hydro with pumps as turbines for 30 years, running them backwards on induction motors. Fairly simple, until you have to deal with the Gov’t and/or Utility and then they put you out of business anyway. Pity that Kali doesn’t consider large hydro as renewable, since it really is, but then I would’t expect the People’s Republic of Kalifornia to be rational.

    Industrial grid scale solar and wind are the problem here, not the other renewables. Even woody biomass, which gets tarred and feathered here is also 24/7 spinning reserve base load electricity. Grid scale solar and wind are the problem, as they are not only unreliable but unpredictable. You really can’t plan too far in advance when you don’t know when the wind might pick up, or the fog and clouds clear out. The other renewables you at least have some knowledge about your ‘fuel’ supply and can manage that to fit peak demands. I feel sorry for the ignorance of California. Used to be a nice place, but now I barely visit.

    • I got into an exchange on Slashdot, where I was trying the explain why it is a fraud for a grocery store to claim that they use “100% Renewable Power”, that is, unless they cut the power to their freezers when the wind stops blowing.

      I offered the view that 30% renewable (we are largely talking wind and solar) was stretching grid reliability, so I said, let’s stipulate that in the absence of long-term grid-scale energy storage, we could get to 50%. I suggested that it was somewhat disingenuous for a grid-connected customer to claim that they 100% renewable power from that 50% share and that those polluters over there are getting all of their power from the 50% share of polar bear-killing power. We are all dipping into a common pool, and to say someone is getting 100% green power, even if they are paying some tithe to the power company to make that claim, is something for which a profit-making business should be scrutinized for the honesty of their advertising.

      The response was a huffy, “You didn’t cite any reputable sources (I didn’t cite any sources). If you are going to stipulate 50% renewable power, I will stipulate 100%.”

      How do you reason with such people? If we are talking the Slashdot “News for nerds, stuff that matters” crowd, I am kind of assuming one is not dealing with people with pink-colored hair who cast horoscopes and rely on crystal pendants for their personal well being?

  23. The Green Marxists think a future of rationed electricity is just fine and dandy. Households will need their own battery storage or backup from diesel generators or whatnot. A propane gas tank for cooking will be useful. Hurricane lanterns at night are very romantic. Stock up on paraffin and wicks. If the sun shines and the wind blows, your utility will sell you some power. Green surcharges can be costly. Otherwise, you’re on your own. Candles and firewood are also useful. The future is looking a lot like the past. An iPhone can be charged by harnessing a dynamo to a treadmill or exercise bike… :).

    • You can also charge your iPhone or any cell phone from your telephone POTS land line. The DC voltage is 48 VDC, so need a resistor to step that down to 5 Vdc, and would be a good idea to have a diode in case the phone rings since it will go up to 90-100 VAC (20 hertz) on the ring if someone calls. You can get about 100 mA out of twisted pair 22 gauge phone one from the Telco (sometimes even on a disconnected line out of service etc) so will take some time to charge your cell phone, but then at least you have a working cell phone while out and about if the power is out for an extended period. A fairly simple hack, but hopefully everyone on the same block doesn’t do it at once. It’s only about a half watt, but in an emergency if that was all you had and were stranded on a desert island, would be nice to have that home made gadget. Might save your life. Could also charge up a L-Ion battery pack over a day or two, if you needed to power something else. It saved my life once and I carry this with me just in case as I am real remote but there is sometimes a land line around.

      • You can get about 100 mA out of twisted pair 22 gauge phone

        You can’t. At about 20 mA (or maybe at your voltage, 10 mA) it will look to the TelCo like you’ve got your receiver off the hook.

        • That would be the correct answer from the TelCo, but of course it depends on your local telco set-up. And this is technically illegal, but all the lines are separated at the central office so you won’t do any damage to the TelCo equipment since some phone lines short circuit etc. A city central office will be manned daily, but a rural telco central offices usually are only visited once a week and they might physically disconnect your line if it appears there is a fault on it. Which is what taking 75 mA off the twisted pair would look like in an open circuit voltage situation. In rural areas with very long runs, the voltage will probably be a bit higher, which will give a tad more current which is why I can get up to 100 mA when my OCV is 57-58 VDC. Sometimes they even up the OCV to 80-90 VDC to ‘burn’ off any internal moisture after a long rainy stretch, which might destroy your voltage regulator, which is why I use a resistor and diode. Using the 7805 voltage regulator won’t last long, since it is designed for 35 VDC and lower, and also wastes a lot of the energy as heat dropping the voltage. Much better circuit designs. Having said all this, much better to have one of those wind-up radio or a flash light with a built in USB port to charge external devices.

          There are other ways to skin this cat too, such as utilizing a small ultra capacitor, and pulse the capacitor in shorter bursts from the 22 gauge twisted pair. That is a much more complicated circuit, and delivers much less current but gets around the issue of appearing to be ‘off hook’ if that becomes an issue. If you left this hack on full time, then yes, the TelCo will physically disconnect your phone line at the central office. It is intended for emergency use only. And it does work.

          https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Get-Emergency-Power-from-a-Phone-Line/

      • I just bought a deluxe 2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Plug-In Hybrid, waiting for delivery this fall. The deluxe model comes with a built in 1500 watt 120 VAC inverter. Will be great for for my RV and camper way off the grid where I spend up to 4-5 months of the year way out in the remote mountains with only solar and a diesel generator and everything satellite. But running a generator isn’t cheap anymore either, at about a buck a kW/hr or more. Now I have my battery problem solved. You can do a lot with 1.5 kW, but do require some load management, and propane heat/cooking etc.

          • Why not? It is an All Wheel Drive with almost as much as ground clearance as my Diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee, (which goes almost anywhere) a 2.5 L gas engine, and a 18.1 kW battery. Will go 42 miles on battery EV alone and recharge in stand alone mode from the gas engine. Plus as I said, the deluxe model already has a 1500 watt pure sine wave inverter, so now I don’t need to hack the battery. I will let you know how it all works out when I take delivery. The new 2021 Rav 4 Prime PHEV is just being released. Not that expensive actually at around $50K.

  24. “ALL of this is the total and complete fault of the Democrats who have run this state since forever … too bad. When I was a kid it was a great place to live”

    Pat Brown was a Democrat I believe and he was a pretty good governor and those days, Pat and then Ronald Reagan, were good old days for California. Too bad Pat’s son Jerry turned out to be such a loser. It’s the old equation about economic cycles … strong men create good times … good times create weak men … weak men create bad times … bad times create strong men … strong men create good times …

    • It’s been a long, long, long time since there’s been a Pat Brown or Ronald Reagan in charge in California.

  25. One of the unalienable rights in the USA is “the pursuit of happiness”. A generator will keep the fridge running. The fridge keeps the beer/wine/ice cream cold. Therefore a functioning fridge allows the pursuit of happiness. Don’t let the founding fathers down. Be like Willis and get a generator.

  26. When I was a kid it was a great place to live.

    I visited in 1963 and a few more times. Last in about 1980.

    • Last time I was there, it was SF in the late 1990s. I stopped into. McDonald’s for coffee one morning, and one fine gentleman was walking through the restaurant saying, “The next one who says no when I asked them for money is gonna get stabbed.” No one did or said anything.

      I walked out of McDonald’s, wrapped up my business, and left the city. Never going back.

  27. Wouldn’t the remedy to all this nonsense be to require providers of renewable energy to bid in their supply and to pay a hefty penalty for failure to perform? This would eliminate the de facto subsidization of renewables by rate payers in the form of higher costs / lower reliability. I realize this would probably not fly with state regulators but could be imposed by FERC in the interest of maintaining grid reliability.

  28. Willis doesn’t know it, but I’m a close neighbor of his. To be more specific, there were over 40,000 folks out of power last night. Between power being turned off intentionally due to poorly maintained power grid during wildfire season, and this cr*p, we now live in a 3rd world state.

    Yeah, we have to vote these bast**ds out of office. Good luck with that. The state is run by LA/San Diego and the Bay Area, largely populated by sheep who believe everything they are told on the evening news.

    My solution? I’m vacating this disaster ASAP for parts Northeast. Somewhere they color the map red instead of blue.

    • Good luck with that. Except for occasional and now less frequent deviations in New Hampshire, you won’t find any states in the northeast where they color the election map red. Even when Republicans win, it tends to be some RINO opportunist.

  29. Willis

    Your comment – “If you add ten gigawatts of solar energy to your grid as shown in Figure 2 above, you perforce, must, need to, have to, add ten gigawatts of conventional fossil energy to cover times like yesterday when renewables simply don’t cut it” – isn’t actually true.

    No properly designed grid is built on the basis of 100% over capacity, ever. You need to consider the concept of firmed power. Firming is necessary at different time scales and different geographic scales to cover the various risks to the power system. For instance with roof top PV there is by its nature a geographic dispersion which is significantly larger than the average cloud size. Therefore as one roof is covered by cloud another is uncovered and production smooths out to about the average insolation. Some roof top firming is also provided by correctly positioning panels so that some are east facing (morning) and some (the majority) are west facing (evening). On a larger scale, one needs a multiplicity of fuel sources and the larger the variation the stronger the network. For instance, Nuclear units may be vulnerable to political disruptions in fuel supply, Hydro to dry years, wind to low wind periods, gas to pipe line failures, coal to quality issues etc. etc.

    In fact, solar and wind can make a great deal of sense if there is sufficient storage in the system e.g. large hydro as they act as a way of conserving high value water in the lakes during low value periods. I don’t know if California has sufficient lakes for this to be the case.

    Only an idiot would try and run a modern power system using a single fuel source whether it be fossil fuels, nuclear or weather dependent installations as this would expose you to risks that cannot be diversified away.

    For the doubters, there are plenty of applications where roof top PV makes a great deal of sense both from an engineering and an economics point of view. An example is a large indoor shopping centre (mall in the US?) with a large out door car park. In South Australia, smart owners are putting roofs over the car parks to provide shade and protection from the rain which makes the centre more attractive, and adding PV to the new roofs. They then sell the energy to the tenants at less than the retail price which is around $350 per MWh and more than the wholesale price (around $50 MWh) Note that the bulk of the load occurs during the day (lighting, HVAC, refrigeration etc.) which matches the local production. Large office parks are another obvious application.

    • UK power system Central Electricity Generating Board ran the countrys entire generation on coal for decades with 100%reliability.

        • Electrical power stations built up their store of coal to survive a 12 months miners strike.

          It is what any sensible business would do.

        • I think you mean coal”miners” but that aside, the miners strike during the Thatcher era caused no power outages at all because government ensured Power station stock piles, were maxed out prior to their confrontation with union anarchists. The early strikes in the 1970’s were less well planned by the authorities and did result in blackmail from the NUM.
          That is why Thatcher won and Heath lost.

      • France used to be 70% Nuclear.
        The advantage of Nuclear over Solar is thatyou can use it 24 7 anywhere. Solar may work well in the Mojave Desert, but it is not so good in winter in northern locations where there are a lot of cloudy days .

    • Many good points to engineering a good grid. In Australia I note the tearing down of coal fired plants, nukes unknown, Snowy Mountain pumped hydro and lots of PV, is leading to your own supply issues. It seems the country and its member states do not have a good balance of generation as you explain is a requirement, otherwise the massive outages Australians experience on a regular basis as your weather though sunny is frequently affected by massive weather systems that unbalance the renewable generation. Anything worthwhile being done to resolve grid instability?

      The idea of PV covered parking lots is a good one but is as an engineer might say, site dependent. Where I live the summers are hot , humid and sunny reaching temperatures of 35+ with winters delivering minus 25 and easily 250 cms of snow and ice. Helluva of place to live, eh?

      My power is a grid supplied mixture of off the wall expensive solar and wind, but thank goodness for hydro and the nukes. No rotating outages thankfully as with the temperatures we deal with, it can be very hot and cold.

    • While a sufficiently large distribution might be able to handle the odd cloud, it can’t handle a storm front, nor can it handle the sun going down.

      Replacing reliable power with unreliable power is never a good idea, no matter how good your intentions might be.

      The only places where roof top solar makes ANY sense, are those places where the mains don’t reach.

      Solar, roof top or otherwise, only makes sense when subsidized. Otherwise you end up paying more for power than you would have had you stuck with fossil fuels.

      • Solar roof top doesn’t even make much sense even in an off grid situation, since the solar panels on a roof are fixed and usually don’t have the right orientation or azimuth. So the efficiency becomes so low, why bother? At one of my very rural off grid locations, I installed a 1.3 kW panel array on my old C Band 3″ steel post that is anchored to a cubic yard of cement below frost level, and can ‘manually’ turn it east to west with the remote control on the old sat receiver when I turn it on, with my thumb on the remote. I can also manually adjust the azimuth just loosening a few bolts a few times a season, and am fairly close if I want, although I usually just leave it a little bit west of due south to catch the sunnier afternoon. Solar gets about 30% more electricity if you can do 3D axis tracking of the Sun, as compared to just mounting fixed at due south and a fixed yearly azimuth such as the spring/fall equinox. The fact that most grid scale solar doesn’t even do 3D axis real time tracking and lose 30% is stunning. Although losing 30% of next to nothing is still nothing I suppose. It is all subsidy mining for the installed capacity and usually overall general efficiency is about 17% at an average location. What a waste of resources for the grid connected solar. Off grid makes some sense if done optimally and you are in a half decent solar location.

        • The problem with trying to tilt panels in a large array, is that as the panels tip up (either east/west or north/south) the panels start to shade each other, which pretty much wipes out the benefit of tipping. So you’ve got a lot of extra cost for no or next to no benefit.

          • Solar thermal-Molten Salt (bird fryers) all have mirrors that have to track the Sun 3D axis real time to focus the Sun on the tower. Without that exact focus on the tower of molten salt, it wouldn’t work at all. Should be able to do the same for solar PV. 30% of all that potential electricity for 7-8 hours a day just goes to waste, which would make the grid even more unstable. Irony.

          • It’s doable, just not practical.
            The type of shading I’m talking about is not a problem for sun focusing type arrays. It is a problem for arrays that directly convert sunlight to electricity.

  30. I’ll bet you, that should Republicans be elected to power in The People’s Republic, nothing will change.
    You’ll have no sudden building of gas or nuclear power stations, you’ll have more “Renewables” & your hydro still not count & will continue to be poorly maintained.
    Why? Because businesses will make more money from the system, building wind & solar & raking in the subsidies from them.

    • That would still leave a profitable market for producing power when actually needed.

      A few small NG plants would spring up, and the Democads would immediately claim that the Republicans were enriching their friends in the oil and gas industry.

  31. All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey. I’ve been walkin’ for a while on a winter’s day. I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A. California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.

    I just made that up. Catchy, eh?

  32. Willis,
    Great Post. Thanks.
    Your mention of your little 2KVA Honda generator takes me back to my perennial problem.
    In Queensland, I installed 24 solar panels on my roof not because of any belief that the future is renewables but because –
    (1) I foresaw the sort of South Australian chaos that dependency on wind and solar would bring ( not particularly insightful),to the National Grid if it was stuffed full of renewables.
    (2) The State Government was providing a rebate of some 44 cents per Kw/Hr. for energy remitted to the grid.
    This has been progressively reduced to some 8 cents per Kw/Hr. as the government (like Spain) realised that their initial largesse might lead to its penury. The government paid the installers an incentive at that time reducing my installation costs from more than A$ 9,000 to about A$ 5,000.
    At the time I was considering a diesel powered generator considerably larger than your Honda to power my household. My engineer savvy brother-in-law tells me that a 7 or 8 KVA should do the trick.
    I know that my roof solar is still part of the National Grid as another commentator here points out.
    To be truly free of the Grid, I need a large Tesla wall battery, or similar, or I am back to installing a diesel generator.
    At present I am vacillating hoping for the arrival of cheap batteries.

    • “hoping for the arrival of cheap batteries”

      There won’t ever be any. How do I know? Because there are no unknown elements left in the periodic table. We can already calculate what the theoretically best possible batteries (lithium-air, aluminium-air) can, at best, provide, and it is not very good, not nearly as good as petroleum. And those battery types are far (meaning at least several years) from being deployed commercially.

      There may some day be some completely new way to store electricity efficiently, but it won’t be batteries.

  33. and The Requirement(s) for multi kilowatts of 24/7/365 electrikery are…

    What precisely *is* wrong with switching it off for a few hours every day?

    I would venture..
    Its makes life interesting/different
    Gives you time to think
    Gives time to do ‘things..
    …home maintenance – maybe even construct a stone floored room on the North side of your home and forget the air-con – with trees/& (long-ish) grass outside to shade/cool it (nice way of realising what junk the Green Gas Gas Effect actually is and how this world/climate works)
    …talk/play with the wife/GF/BF/kids
    …do the garden (dig old paper & card into the ground, esp around trees) Your TV will certainly follow soon after
    …go litter picking
    …tidy the grass verges along your lane/road
    …plant some trees/flowers
    …feed the wild birds
    …go fishing/painting/walking/exploring
    …build ‘eclectic’ things for your garden/yard/house. (Check Pinterest for initial ideas)
    …watch ‘nature’ (the very best thing to do – after a while it will dawn what a Total Pile Of Shyte CAGW actually is)
    …walk to the neighbours, chew the cud.
    …Make friends with an autistic kid – build it a playground. Use it.
    …go talk to any cows/horses there may be around. They’re always very good listeners. Explain the Green Gas House Effect to them. Realise in your own mind what shyte it is AND thus, how to explain such to any 2-legged animals you come upon
    …The Real Life Saver = learn to eat food that doesn’t need cooking. Yes, I am talking about carbohydrate. (How did our ancestors manage without a microwave oven? Hmmm. How?
    …Learn to listen to your own body, learn to dance. It really is the simplest thing to do, building a loud stereo system that’ll run off a car battery and a few solar panels

    ..Learn to enjoy your own company. i.e. Chill
    That is THE biggest mistake that ‘activists of all colours make – they actually hate themselves and try to live with themselves by passing that hate on and elektrikery makes it soooooo easy to do so

    • Peta, you seem to think that life would be wonderful without electricity. I strongly recommend that you go to some third world country, where continuous electricity doesn’t exist. There, you can “enjoy your own company”, learn to eat raw food, and dance to a “loud stereo system that’ll run off a car battery and a few solar panels” … wait, what? That’s electricity! You have to dance to your own singing. Plus it takes electricity to make cars … and batteries … and all the rest.

      Anyhow, go do that for a year or so, collect wood every day to boil water so you don’t die of dysentery, and then come back and report how much fun you had …

      When I was a kid, electricity was rightly seen of the savior of the poor rancher or farmer, and the poor housewife. And it’s true. Electricity is what set women free from endless slavery.

      Not sure when it became evil, but Peta, I suspect that after a year of living in some developing country and washing your own clothes by hand you might see the wisdom in using electricity …

      I discuss such a country below …

      w.

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/17/firing-up-the-economy-literally/

    • Why the question? Turn off your power every day for a few hours – make it realistic and turn it off during peak usage the time of 3 pm until 6 pm.

      After a year, get hack to us on how great it was.

    • Peta….our power was out in the dark. How am I going to do home remodeling, or just about anything in the dark? How am I going to run the 120/240VAC power tools?

      >>>Insert another copy of Willis’ reply here<<<

      In short, please take your green ideas and peddle them somewhere else.

    • Peta of Newark
      Is that Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire?
      And is it Peta as a phonetic spelling of Peter, or are we talking People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?

      I’ve been curious for years. You’re a colorful character. Care to share?

    • Gives time to do ‘things..
      …home maintenance

      which requires light (which requires electricity when the power is out during the dark hours) and often powered tools (electricity again, even if battery powered, those batteries need electricity to charge)

      building a loud stereo system that’ll run off a car battery and a few solar panels

      the materials to build such a system as well as the manufacture of the car, battery and solar panels all required electricity (and a lot of it) to produce.

      Really, Peta, as Willis said, try living life in one of the countries that doesn’t have electricity. Give it a year and then report back to us how great it was.

  34. “They are absolutely not ready without huge ongoing subsidies and full fossil backup”.
    And that subsidy can only come from a healthy oil and gas industry. Kill off the oil, coal and gas and bang goes the subsidies for renewables. Who’d of thought?

  35. Thanks for another great, clear analysis, Willis.

    It is interesting that, from your first graph, it appears that the only “renewable” energy source which is reliably useful is geothermal, steadily producing about 1 GW (about 2% of total peak electricity demand for the state). I had not realized that the People’s Democratic Republic of California got any electricity from geothermal.

    So I googled it, and found this page:
    https://ww2.energy.ca.gov/almanac/renewables_data/geothermal/index_cms.php#:~:text=There%20are%20a%20total%20of,in%20photo%20on%20the%20right).

    It reports that in 2019 the PDRC produced 10,943 GWh of electricity at geothermal plants, and imported another 700 GWh from Nevada, for an average of:

    (10,943+700) / (365 * 24) = 1.33 GW total
    10,943 / (365 * 24) = 1.25 GW (without the 700 GWh imported from NV)

    It says:

    In 2019, geothermal energy in our state produced 10,943 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity. Combined with another 700 GWh of imported geothermal power, geothermal energy produced 5.46 percent of California’s in-state generation portfolio. There are a total of 43 operating geothermal power plants in California with an installed capacity of 2,730 megawatts.

    1.25 / 2.730 = 45.8% capacity factor.

    I’m surprised the CF is so low. That 46% compares to typical CFs of about 18% for wind, 10% for solar, and >90% for nuclear. (For fossil fuels, the CFs aren’t very meaningful, because output is determined by demand.)

    Unfortunately, all of the PDRC’s geothermal electricity production is a long way from the Los Angeles demand center.

    • We have geothermal energy generated very near to where I live, at The Geysers. Usual problems, highly corrosive water that eats at heat exchangers and the like, but it does work. As you point out, it’s a long ways from the population centers.

      w.

      • The Geysers geothermal resource is a rare and classic occurrence, in my opinion. Something an explorer dreams about! I am not a geothermal expert but you can easily research it yourself. Has been operating for a longg time.

    • The reason why Geysers has such a low capacity factor is twofold. First they have too many power stations for the size of the resource so there is not enough steam to run them all at full load. The second is that they can maximise their income by two shifting the plant, doing most of the generation while the demand is high.
      Geysers is different to most other geothermal resources. Its wells produce dry steam, most other fields produce a mixture of steam and water. The latter take a lot longer to stabilise and don’t take kindly to load changes.

  36. +100 Great article Willis.
    If you go here you will find generator outages.
    http://content.caiso.com/unitstatus/data/unitstatus202008150830.html
    Things would have been worse if Diablo 2 had not come back online ealier in the month.
    Once they shut down Diablo Canyon, they will be scrambling to find another 2200MW.
    On Friday FMM prices at DLAP_SCE-APND HE19 were over $1000 per MWh.
    (And you thought Solar at $100 MWh was expensive).
    Don’t just blame the Democrats – Aaaahnuld was also a big supporter.
    Wait till Kamala Harris gets in on the act.
    Meanwhile, the Environ Mental Retards in LA can charge their Teslas using Coal Powered electriciy that the
    LAPWD imports from the InterMountain Power Plant in Utah.

  37. From the article: “As you can see”

    I don’t know about others, but I can’t see those graph clearly enough to get any information from them without using my magnifying application.

    It would be nice to have a link to the graphics, where they can be enlarged enough to read the text, or you could just post larger graphs.

    • Agreed, but this works, too:

      1. Right-click the graph. (Or, on a Mac, “ctrl click”, or two-finger-tap.)

      2. That should bring up a menu. On the menu, left-click “Open image in new tab” (most browsers), or “View image” (Firefox).

      3. If necessary, click on the new tab, to view the graph by itself.

      4. Use “ctrl +” or “ctrl =” to enlarge (“zoom in”), or “ctrl -” to shrink (“zoom out”). Or hold down the ctrl key while spinning the mouse wheel. (Or, on a Mac, you might need to use “⌘ +” or “⌘ -“.)

  38. My relatives in the San Francisco bay area are convinced that wind and solar backed by utility scale batteries can replace nearly all of our nation’s legacy power generation resources; i.e. coal, nuclear, and natural gas.

    From what I can observe myself, most Californians would probably agree with this opinion.

    Not only that, my Bay Area relatives believe that the only long term solution for California’s high prices for electricity is to greatly accelerate the retirement of coal, nuclear, and natural gas in favor of the quick adoption of wind and solar.

    Why should most Californians believe otherwise when PG&E’s own CEO, Anthony Early, claimed that California can easily achieve 70% wind and solar by 2030, and that California’s utilities can then charge less for electricity than they do today?

    • Here’s a good way to make your relatives in SF pitch a fit – ask them how all the “rare earth metals” and other materials necessary for all this bone-headed wind and solar will be mined…wind and solar fired bulldozers, excavators, and backhoes?! LMFAO.

      All we need is a big “easement” to reach the ports, and then we can let the rest of Calizuela secede and stew in their own juices.

      • They, just like most Californians, are incapable of acknowledging these realities. And when blackouts occur and when prices for electricity rise sharply, they will blame it all on an Enron-like market manipulation conspiracy.

    • Ask them to try and calculate how many banks of batteries it would take to run San Francisco for just 15 minutes. Then ask them how many years it would take to build all those batteries.

      • MarkW: “Ask them to try and calculate how many banks of batteries it would take to run San Francisco for just 15 minutes. Then ask them how many years it would take to build all those batteries.”

        In past years, I’ve raised similar questions with my Bay Area relatives concerning how much grid-scale battery storage will be needed by 2030 if California is to achieve 70% wind and solar by the end of this decade.

        Their standard response has always been, “The cost of batteries is falling rapidly. We don’t need to worry about not having enough backup storage when the time comes that we will need it.”

        California’s state government claims 70% renewables can be done by 2030; PG&E’s own CEO claims it can be done. My California relatives live in a dream world, of course, but no one in a position of authority in that state is telling them anything different.

    • Most Californian’s would fail 6th grade science class. I remember talking with a coworker who was certain that solar jet liners were just a few years away. Despite her being reasonably bright, I couldn’t get her to understand the solar irradiance of the sun versus the surface area and mass of an airliner. I just had to give up.

  39. Willis, a tongue in cheek observation. If you add 10Gw of unreliable renewables, you DON’T “gotta, need to” add 10 GwH of fossil fuel backup. As your post shows, you can have 10GwH of rolling blackouts instead.

    • Even Professor Jacobson acknowledges that achieving 100% renewables in the United States requires that total demand for electricity be cut roughly in half. What he doesn’t acknowledge is that significantly higher prices for electricity plus extreme conservation measures such as rolling blackouts are the only practical means of achieving that necessary reduction in demand.

  40. “VOTE! The only solution to this nonsense is to throw them out…”

    A response from your neighbor down the road.
    No way in hell will the residents of California throw these clowns out of office. We already have term limits for state government and we simply replace the old clowns with new. I’ve lived in California for 58 of 62 years and, just as with a warming planet, I can only mitigate the effects – I cannot change them! So here are my mitigation steps in no particular order:

    1. A 10kW generator which was purchased for troubled winters but is now used more in the summer
    2. Keep my income low while still living quite comfortably (so I am not enabling the craziness)
    3. Own an electric vehicle to avoid, as much as possible, the ever increasing gas taxes
    4. Solar panels to help offset the outrageous cost of electricity (especially from 11:00am to 6:00pm)
    5. Lived in my home for 37 years to take full advantage of Prop 13 property taxes
    6. Every time my blood comes to a boil, remember: The wisdom in understanding what I can control and what I can not.

    Willis – When things get frustrating, enjoy the beauty of our community and live to fight another day, my friend!

  41. The UK system of giving “renewables” preferential access to the Grid is obviously flawed. The solution is simple.

    Treat all generators the same and demand that they provide power 24/365 on pain of… well, pain. That will stop solar and wind leeching off the reliability of fossil fuels and nuclear which they make uneconomic by skimming off the easy money.

    Then tax the wind farms.

    JF

  42. A glimmer of hope: My CA city recently upgraded the resident oil fired generation plant to gas turbine. The planned demolition of the oil fired plant was put on hold for a couple of years while they assess the area’s energy needs. What’s to assess if we’re having rolling blackouts? I see a running reserve oil plant next to the gas turbines in our future.

    • Yeah. I remember a couple years ago your nuke energy being shut down. I wonder how much of the overpricing comes from that nuke shutdown.

  43. Reminds me of the days back in 2000-2003 when Enron cut generation offline and set the rolling blackouts in motion.

    Of course, when Gray Davis agreed to pay the ransom, no more rolling blackouts.
    Until now.

    Clearly, we just need to keep paying the ransom.

    Looking back:
    I don’t seem to recall any rebates after the Execs were charged, and the energy traders went to Wall St.

    • 2.87% of my latest true up bill from PG&E was to pay for the Department of Water and Power contracts Gov Davis negotiated to ensure supply during the last energy crisis. Who knows when the ransom ends.

    • No, voting no longer matters. I just found out my grandmother will be voting Democrat. I am so disappointed. She would have never voted Democrat when she was alive.

    • “Sweet Fanny Adams” is time-tested British slang for “sweet FA”, which in turn is slang for “sweet Fu*k All”, meaning less than nothing.

      w.

  44. sorry, so late to the conversation – – again. But last time I was in the Bay Area (2 years ago) I was reading the Pleasanton News (?) and the article said residents can now (like other cities in the area) pay a little more for 50% of their electricity from renewable sources, or pay even more and get 100%! Looking at the charts at the top that is a few 1,000 customers….. and they run out of renewable…. (somebody correct me if I’m wrong). And when I was reading it the first thought that came to mind was how does the electrical system tell the difference between 1 KW of renewable from 1 KW of non-renewable? If 1 customer on a street is paying for renewable and the next door neighbor is not…. Do they have REALLY smart meters that can tell the difference?? Hmmm, I’m thinking the more likely answer is just REALLY dumb customers.

    • Is there any way to ensure that these customers are the first to have their power cut when renewables aren’t enough to meet the demand?

  45. Welcome to the club of areas with frequent blackouts California! You have joined us of color in South Asia, Africa and South America.
    For India the situation was improving, but the last few years they have also added a lot of solar to the mix inspired by “Paris2015” and Chinese and Western solar panel producers. Luckily thermal is not cursed here nor is nuclear. Our windmills run only 4 months a year during summer monsoon but that “could” supply extra air conditioning in offices and agricultural pumping peaks in the same hot season.

    We have seen the Light, for you it is back to the Dark Ages.

  46. Severin Borenstein, a California Independent System Operator board member and energy economist at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, said the blackouts highlight the need for more large-scale batteries to store renewable energy and to deploy it when production is down, as well as larger investments in utility programs designed to encourage customers to conserve energy when necessary.

    Hey, Presto…

    Humongous Tesla Battery Plant Approved In California Is 10× Bigger Than World’s Biggest Battery Plant,
    February 27th, 2020 by Johnna Crider

    Tesla has been approved to reinvent the Moss Landing power plant in California as a battery power plant. Tesla will be bringing clean and renewable energy into the plant, which will be one of the largest — probably the largest — energy storage facility in the world. In fact, it will be approximately 10× bigger than Tesla’s Hornsdale energy storage project (1.2 GWh versus 129 MWh), which was 3× bigger than any other battery storage facility at the time it was built.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2020/02/27/humongous-tesla-battery-plant-approved-in-california-is-10x-bigger-than-worlds-biggest-battery-plant/

    Market Summary > Tesla Inc
    NASDAQ: TSLA
    1,650.71 USD +29.71 (1.83%)
    Closed: Aug 14, 7:59 PM EDT · Disclaimer
    After hours 1,646.31 −4.40 (0.27%)

    Tesla stock has risen from $220 a year ago to its Friday closing price of $1,650. Might as well buy shares because soon we’ll all be lighting candles and cursing the darkness.

    • I figure the price for the batteries is $109 per KWh of storage … they’re gonna have to do some plain and fancy tap dancing to have that make money.

      w.

  47. This situation occurred primarily due to the failure of “renewable energy sources” during a time of high demand and no backup systems could take up the power load. Note: this weekend’s high demand was below the peak demand in prior years so the power demand (usage) was not something failed in the past by the power system.

    I’m not sure if this info is hidden in the above chain, but some relevant published news… (if you want to check you can cut and paste the links I’ve included as the source for my info)

    https://www.kcra.com/article/california-blackouts-2020-pge-heat-wave-august-15/33614032#
    “California ISO declared a Stage 3 Electrical Emergency around 6:28 p.m. due to increased demand, as well as the loss of a 470-megawatt power plant.

    They also cite the loss of nearly 1,000 megawatts of wind power.

    However, the system was ordered back online 20 minutes later at 6:48 p.m. as wind resources increased, California ISO said.

    As of 8:20 p.m., there were nearly 70,000 residents still without power, according to the California Office of Emergency Service dashboard.

    At its peak, 67,401 customers in San Joaquin County experienced the outage.

    A Stage 3 Emergency is declared when the demand outpaces the available supply. When this happens, grid operators tap electricity reserves to balance the grid, officials said.

    The heat wave throughout the area increased electricity usage, leading to the strain on the power grid for the second night in a row.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/16/business/california-blackouts.html
    New York Times actually reported the rolling blackouts “even though this weekend’s demand fell below the state’s peak years.”

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