The dark side of California – the sunshine state

Our resident cartoonist Josh has come up with a political cartoon response to the “rolling blackouts” in California.

For some background, see these two WUWT posts:

CAISO President: California Power Grid teetering close to the edge of collapse


In CAISO Emergency Break Glass

Like his work? Buy him a pint.

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August 18, 2020 12:53 pm

Black States Matter. Or something.

August 18, 2020 1:03 pm

Some states have seen NG plants close because they are very old ones and new NG peaker plants are not being built in some sunny places because they cannot compete with solar with grid batteries (AZ). But only in California do they close NG plants when they are definitely needed in a high priced wholesale market. Add them to the list of states waiting around for Federal money to bail them out for being consistently ignorant, alongside Illinois, NY, and NJ.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 18, 2020 1:49 pm

Taiwan was really smacked by SARS. The result was that Taiwan, having learned from its experience, was ready for the WuFlu and took quick and effective action without shutting down its economy.

California was really smacked by the Enron debacle. Sadly, unlike Taiwan, California seems to be incapable of learning from its mistakes.

I’m no expert but the current mess in California sure smells like the Enron mess. Does anyone disagree that criminally stupid government policies set the stage for both messes?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  commieBob
August 18, 2020 2:25 pm

The ENRON mess was the result of a short-term market manipulation by unscrupulous actors working in a de-regulated void of a monopolistic utility resource. It was monolpoly for the consumer as the customers couldn’t opt out of their provider (people only had one electricity provider like CalEd or PG&E as end users).

This current Black-out fiasco is years in the making. It is directly due to Democrats believing effectively in magic and forcing the power utilities via mandates and regulatory oversight to also act on those magical beliefs. It is akin to a belief in magic to expect that unreliable wind and solar could substitute for reliable base-load generation sources. It was predicted. It is just those predictions were not heeded by the planners being shackled by politicians believing in solar and wind unicorns.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 18, 2020 4:32 pm

It is a lie that the CA utility market was ever deregulated.
There were at least as many new regulations as the previous regime, they were just different, and poorly thought out.

Reply to  commieBob
August 18, 2020 5:16 pm

Here’s what I was talking about re. Enron:

After passage of the deregulation law, California had a total of 38 Stage 3 rolling blackouts declared, until federal regulators intervened during June 2001. These blackouts occurred as a result of a poorly designed market system that was manipulated by traders and marketers, as well as from poor state management and regulatory oversight. Subsequently, Enron traders were revealed as intentionally encouraging the removal of power from the market during California’s energy crisis by encouraging suppliers to shut down plants to perform unnecessary maintenance, as documented in recordings made at the time. These acts contributed to the need for rolling blackouts, which adversely affected many businesses dependent upon a reliable supply of electricity, and inconvenienced a large number of retail customers. This scattered supply increased the price, and Enron traders were thus able to sell power at premium prices, sometimes up to a factor of 20x its normal peak value. link

Government ineptitude made it possible for traders to game the system to the disadvantage of California consumers. I’m not sure I would call the traders corrupt for playing the game according to the rules. Were any of them even prosecuted? Yep. OK, I guess they were corrupt.

george Tetley
Reply to  commieBob
August 19, 2020 2:21 am

Wait until the unemployed youth start playing “nightlight” ( when several wind turbines are tied together with cord in there blades ) shoot a small cord attached to a heavy steel one .

Timo Soren
Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 18, 2020 3:14 pm

Grid batteries in AZ? I find that hard to believe. Any possible reference would be appreciated.

Jim G
Reply to  Timo Soren
August 18, 2020 9:26 pm

Grid batteries.
Now you need twice as much power to produce 1/2 as much as anything else.

Where are the environmentalists protesting the eye sore, overdeveloped abuse of land?

Reply to  Timo Soren
August 18, 2020 9:50 pm

Hopefully better than the APS ones that catch fire and blow up
The 850MW one they were planning to build is on hold because it obviously creates a liability issue that needs to be thought about.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 18, 2020 4:30 pm

The only way solar with grid batteries can compete with NG is when the solar is heavily subsidized.

Scouser in AZ
Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 18, 2020 6:17 pm

I just got an email from TEP (our Tucson provider) asking to conserve afternoon energy so they will have some “left over” to sell at exorbitant rates to CA…. 🙂

Reply to  Scouser in AZ
August 18, 2020 9:00 pm

Hmm. I don’t have one in my inbox…

Maybe they know how I would reply. The California idiots pay Arizona to take their oversupply when the wind blows too much – and pays Arizona to make up their shortfall when it doesn’t.

Yet my electric bill keeps going up. While they send a little flyer in every larger bill about all they are doing to imitate the idiots.

Scouser in AZ
Reply to  Scouser in AZ
August 19, 2020 11:47 am

And again for today…… 🙂

“TEP Requests Second Day of Voluntary Energy Conservation from 3-8 p.m.

August 19, 2020 – After yesterday’s call for conservation helped avert regional energy shortages, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is asking customers again today to reduce energy use between 3-8 p.m. to limit strain on the western grid.

Although TEP expects to have enough energy to serve our customers, we’re joining other Arizona utilities in calling for a second day of voluntary energy conservation to support reliability throughout the southwestern United States. Similar calls are being issued by Arizona Public Service, UniSource Energy Services and Trico.

“We saw a meaningful impact on peak energy use as customers responded to the call yesterday,” said Erik Bakken, Vice President of System Operations and Energy Resources. “Thank you to everyone who participated, and we appreciate continued efforts again today as we try to do our part to support regional electric reliability”

Today is likely the last day such efforts will be needed, Bakken said, as weather forecasts and wholesale energy prices indicate easing pressure on energy supplies beginning tomorrow.”

Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 19, 2020 10:33 am

There’s really no such thing as solar with grid batteries. The world’s largest grid battery back-up, the Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia, can supply 70 MW for just 10 minutes or 30 MW for 3 hours. It cost about $100 million US. To back up a 1000 MW solar farm, the size of a single nuclear power plant, for 12 hours overnight you would need a backup battery 133 times larger for a total battery cost approaching the cost of a nuclear plant. Even at that, a battery that big wouldn’t be large enough to get through a few cloudy days. The total cost, including the cost of the solar farm itself, accounting for Solar’s low availability factor, would be twice what a nuclear plant costs. So what does Hornsdale do? It backs up wind power just long enough to bring a Natural Gas turbine on line when the wind dies down, and it charges when power is cheap, and discharges when power is expensive.

August 18, 2020 1:03 pm

Florida is the “Sunshine State.”

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  AARGH63
August 18, 2020 1:58 pm

Yes, they are the sunshine state without much solar PV.

For the month of April 2020, Florida got 79.3% of their in-state generated electricity from natural gas, 11.2% from nuclear power, 4.7% from coal, and a paltry 4.8% from wind and solar (zero from hydro). About 1/3 of their renewable production was solar PV, or 1.6% of total.
Their baseload generation means that they won’t “California their grid” unless socialist Federal policies from Biden-Harris communist government forces them to.

Compare that to the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia (PRK), currently enjoying their Socialist Green virtue of blackouts:
For the month of April 2020:
The PRK got 34.6% of their in-state generated electricity from natural gas, 14.2% from hydroelectric, 11.7% from nuclear power, 0.0% from coal, and a 39.5% from wind and solar, split pretty evenly between wind and solar, or about 19% from solar PV.

That huge dependence by the PRK on unreliable, intermittent wind and solar at almost 40% of instate production is why this week they are facing blackouts of unprecedented scale and it will only get worse in the coming years.

Meanwhile Florida at less than 2% from solar PV enjoys the sunshine and night-time A/C and lights without interruption.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 19, 2020 5:47 am

Their baseload generation means that they won’t “California Kalifornicate their grid”

Fixed it for you.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 19, 2020 11:15 am

“and a 39.5% from wind and solar, split pretty evenly between wind and solar, or about 19% from solar PV.

That huge dependence by the PRK on unreliable, intermittent wind and solar at almost 40% of instate production is why this week they are facing blackouts of unprecedented scale and it will only get worse in the coming years.”

Yes, somewhere in that range is the breaking point for wind and solar South Australia is about 35 percent wind and solar. Germany is in that range. They are reaching their limits, it appears. Troubles seem to be popping up everywhere this is tried.

Nuclear reactors are the solution. Forget the wind and solar. They are very expensive deadends, as we are starting to see. It’s delusional to think it is a good idea to pave the world with windmills and solar farms. It’s a *very* bad idea.

Reply to  AARGH63
August 18, 2020 2:47 pm

that’s mostly because we’re all armed……

August 18, 2020 1:10 pm

Well, they don’t have any major fires this time to blame the grid failure on. The disgusting cretins claimed last time that they had to turn the power off to keep people from burning up. This time, people on a desert or near-desert climate are literally burning up in no-AC buildings. This story got barely a peep on any of the National fake newscasts, but they whined on and on the last time around.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Luke
August 18, 2020 2:08 pm

Yep, they don’t have the high and dry winds from the East downsloping off the Sierra’s to blame for this one.

The unreliable, intermittency of solar and wind is now biting them hard. Not only with black-outs but ever higher bills. As I write this (2:07 pm) , I have window open on my browser that shows that CA ISO is paying over $691/MW-hr on the spot market to cover the margins for all of Southern California. And for the rest of central and Sacrament to the Bay Area, CA-ISO is paying over $100 MW-hr on the margins to cover demand.

That slaps the rate payers hard at the end of the month when those spot market electricity buys are put on everyone’s bills there.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 18, 2020 3:54 pm

“Yep, they don’t have the high and dry winds from the East downsloping off the Sierra’s to blame for this one.”

I’ve read that some commenter, perhaps a politician, is saying that utilities are blacking out areas where the wind is high, in a too-precautionary manner, although the real risk of a fire is low.

On the outer Barcoo
August 18, 2020 1:13 pm

California at night – where the sun don’t shine.

August 18, 2020 1:17 pm
August 18, 2020 1:22 pm

During the last rolling blackouts, I worked on a campus that had diesel generator backup. It encouraged a lot of us to stay at work until the power came back on.

August 18, 2020 1:31 pm

People who lived in Bulgaria in 1959 knows this well.

Back to the Future … California Edition.

August 18, 2020 1:33 pm

AARGH63 is right. Florida is the “Sunshine State.”

California is the “Golden State.” Would have been funny except Josh got the wrong state.

Reply to  6thGenCalifornian
August 18, 2020 1:48 pm

He might have got the State wrong, but he didn’t get the state wrong, although I had no blackouts here in The East Bay.

August 18, 2020 1:47 pm

This whole idea of retiring fossil fuel plants is known as California Dreamin’

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Stevek
August 18, 2020 2:32 pm

Nothing wrong with retiring older plants and replacing them with newer, more efficient designs. But that is not what California did of course.
They believed in the solar and wind that would unicorns would ride to their rescue with cheap, emissions free electricity as the ordered older NG plants shutdown. It was epic stupidity, not just simple ignorance because the predictions from independent experts that this would happen were always there if they bothered to heed to them. They purposefully chose not to, and went with corrupt university academics like a certain Civl Engineering professor at Stanford spewing engineering malfeasance paid off by the Steyer Green Slime machine.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 18, 2020 3:56 pm

Part of their magic thinking is that peaker plants can be replaced by backup battery farms like Tesla’s.

August 18, 2020 1:57 pm

Viva Calizuela!!

It doesn't add up...
August 18, 2020 2:45 pm

Isn’t it a blackground?

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
August 18, 2020 3:19 pm

I know, I know, I know, I know, I know…

Michael Jankowski
August 18, 2020 4:02 pm

Florida is the Sunshine State.

California is the Golden State.

Jeff Alberts
August 18, 2020 8:25 pm

Bumper Sticker: California, the OTHER North Korea.

August 18, 2020 9:51 pm

I used to comute through the Altamont Pass windmill farm by train quite regularly. When others on the train would gush about renewables I had a standard response. What happens when there is fog over 1,200 feet deep and zero MPH wind speed? Crickets.


Ed Zuiderwijk
August 18, 2020 10:49 pm

Blackouts matter.

August 19, 2020 1:59 am

Regarding the rolling electricity blackouts in California – as we predicted in our 2002 publication:

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:

See Michael Shellenberger’s 2020 confession “On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare”.

See Michael Moore’s 2020 film “Planet of the Humans”.

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.

August 19, 2020 2:45 am

Fairly off topic, I know, but several readers might enjoy

Reply to  Disputin
August 19, 2020 4:37 am

OK, I’d better learn some HTML

Fairly off topic, I know, but several readers might enjoy

Steve Case
Reply to  Disputin
August 19, 2020 6:40 am

Good read, thanks for posting.

Reply to  Disputin
August 19, 2020 1:54 pm

Thank you, great article.

TRUMP! playing chess, libtards playing tic tac toe.

On the same note, the Republican controlled Senate now REDUCING the next? China virus bill below 1 trillion while Schumer and Pelosi demand they come back to the table with at least 2 trillion to spend. Apparently McConnell is on the same page as TRUMP!, LOL.

August 19, 2020 4:42 am

…as long as those clowns don’t move over here, they can suffer in their own dark night.

Anyone who is dumb enough to believe that “renewables” are the wave of the future gets no sympathy from me.

A nuclear plant like something the size of the nuke plant on an aircraft carrier could support a small town, maybe several towns or an entire country. I asked a good friend who spent a good portion of his Navy career on a bird farm (aircraft carrier) what the comparison of the ship’s nuke plant would be to a standard nuclear plant like a reactor downstate from me, which serves over 4 million customers. Considering that it has to both run the ship’s engines and provide juice to the ship’s systems such as electronics and electricity, he said it can be compared to the needs of a heavily populated county.

But let’s do watch while those birdbrained ecohippies ruin their own cities in LaLaLand. Reality is the best teacher, in my view.

Reply to  Sara
August 19, 2020 2:12 pm


Also new military carrier reactors use highly enriched uranium and can go more than 25 years without refueling.

Wikipedia mentions almost 400 MW of output. 2 reactors in each aircraft carrier for redundant power.

Interesting research indicates the smallest electrical power reactor in the US produces 582 MW and the largest 3,937 MW.,relatively%20high%20annual%20capacity%20factors.

Reply to  Sara
August 20, 2020 8:16 pm

Drake -= thanks, and yes, if this were applied to areas on land for usage, the costs of electricity would not go much higher than my current electric bill, which is a ateady $37 +/- per month in the summer and a little higher, to run the furnace, in the winter. Consistently low cost, and aside from steam releases which aren’t really pollution, low to no polllution.

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