Gizmodo Blames Natural Gas for California’s Rolling Black Outs

Guest “too fracking funny” by David Middleton

CLIMATE CHANGE
Renewable Energy Isn’t to Blame for California’s Blackouts

Dharna Noor
Wednesday

On Friday and Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Californians had their power cut for a spurt in the evening. And more of this could be in store in the coming days as record breaking heat beats down on the state and wildfires burn out of control.

State officials have said the need for the shutoffs shows the inadequacies of renewable power. On Monday, Stephen Berberich, president of California’s Independent System Operator (CAISO), the agency which made the call to enact the rolling shutoffs, blamed the California Public Utilities Commission for failing to ensure adequate power capacity on hot nights after the sun sets. That’s when electricity generated by the state’s solar panels drops to zero but demand for air conditioning remains high. The implication, that transitioning away from fossil fuels has made California’s energy less reliable, could work in the gas industry’s favor, since the state is reviewing proposals to keep several natural gas plants in Southern California online.

[…]

But despite Berberich’s and other’s assertions, there is no evidence that solar actually failed at all. In fact, energy experts have noted that based on the energy reserves that are available, the state should be able to handle the peak electricity demand that increased air conditioning use amid the heat wave is causing.

[…]

The heat wave is causing a spike in energy demand, and the state did lose some sources of power at the same time, causing what CAISO called a “perfect storm” of events. But the biggest power sources that went offline this past weekend weren’t solar power plants. CAISO’s own data shows that on Friday when the blackouts were announced, the solar supply remained pretty consistent, but the state’s natural gas supply underperformed by 400 megawatts.

“It was actually gas that failed,” said Shana Lazerow, a staff attorney at environmental justice nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment. “We should be talking about how gas is unreliable.”

Wind energy also underperformed over the weekend, producing about 1,000 megawatts below state analysts’ expectations. 

[…]

Even if the heat waves had caused an insurmountable spike in energy demand, Stokes said moving away from renewables would be exactly the wrong response.

“Let’s be real, why do we have heat waves right now, across the western U.S.? It’s because of climate change,” she said. “Parts of California … have warmed more than 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit]. These are places that historically didn’t need air conditioning, and now they do because they’re seeing record high temperatures for days in a row, so people are going to need more electricity. And that is because we have burned fossil fuels for over 100 years.”

Gizmodo

Before I move on to the natural gas nonsense, this bit is irresistible:

Even if the heat waves had caused an insurmountable spike in energy demand, Stokes said moving away from renewables would be exactly the wrong response.

“Let’s be real, why do we have heat waves right now, across the western U.S.? It’s because of climate change,” she said.

“Even if the heat waves had caused an insurmountable spike in energy demand…moving away from” unreliable energy sources “would be exactly the wrong response” because… Drum roll, please… climate change”. I really couldn’t make this sort of schist up, if I tried.

On to the natural gas nonsense

The heat wave is causing a spike in energy demand, and the state did lose some sources of power at the same time, causing what CAISO called a “perfect storm” of events. But the biggest power sources that went offline this past weekend weren’t solar power plants. CAISO’s own data shows that on Friday when the blackouts were announced, the solar supply remained pretty consistent, but the state’s natural gas supply underperformed by 400 megawatts.

Both the “solar supply” and natural gas supply” links go to this document:

CAISO Briefing on system operations, August 17, 2020

Neither “natural gas” nor “gas” appear anywhere in the document. There is an entry about losing 475 MW of generating capacity at 2:56 PM on Friday August 14, but it doesn’t specify what that capacity was. Here’s the timeline:

The lack of resources was identified on August 12 and power plant operators were notified to restrict maintenance operations,

Here are Friday’s details:

At noon, they realized they would not be able to obtain additional resources, lost 475 MW of generation capacity, dispatched “contingency reserves” and began rolling blackouts until about 8 PM, when demand decreased. Then on Saturday, the wind acted up:

So the wind kicked up and reliable generation (natural gas) had to rapidly ramp down… Then the wind died and reliable generation (natural gas) had to rapidly ramp up. Mind boggling.

At this point, they were looking at a resource deficiency of up to 4,400 MW on Monday, as demand ramped up and solar ramped down:

Somehow, natural gas is to blame for this:

According to CAISO, the factors that could affect their maximum generating capacity from 5 to 8 PM were:

Capacity to meet peak hour load approximately 46,000 MW but can
be ultimately be affected by:

• Resource and transmission outages
• Fires affecting transmission availability
• Availability of imports based on west wide load and supply conditions
• Cloud cover affecting solar production
• Weather conditions affecting wind production
• Hydro conditions
• Ambient derates to conventional generators due to heat

Capacity to meet 8 pm (net load peak) demand approximately
43,000 MW
• Lower due to no solar production after sunset

Can anyone see anything in this document that supports this claim?

“It was actually gas that failed,” said Shana Lazerow, a staff attorney at environmental justice nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment. “We should be talking about how gas is unreliable.”

I can’t even find the quote anywhere else, except in an article quoting the Gizmodo nonsense.

“It was actually gas that failed,” while solar performed as designed

The closest support I can find for this claim, is from this Mercury News article:

California grid operator warned of power shortages as state transitioned to clean energy
Growing shortfall as solar power goes offline in early evenings

By PAUL ROGERS | progers@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: August 17, 2020

[…]

[L]ast fall, top officials at California’s power grid operator ominously warned that electricity shortages were likely as soon as 2020 during a big Western heat wave. The reason: The state’s historic shift away from fossil fuels such as natural gas, which provide consistent power, toward cleaner sources such as solar and wind energy, which rise and fall with the weather and the sun.

With less reliable energy supplies, they say the power grid has become more difficult to operate and more at risk of blackouts, calling it a “most urgent issue” that “really needs timely attention.”

[…]

“We have a much more risky supply of energy now because the sun doesn’t always shine when we want and the wind doesn’t always blow when we want,” said Frank Wolak, a Stanford University economics professor who specializes in energy markets. “We need more tools to manage that risk. We need more insurance against the supply shortfalls.”

The blackouts are not a surprise.

[…]

Starting Friday as temperatures soared above 100 degrees and hit 110 in some parts of the state, the warnings came true. The ISO ordered utilities such as PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric to impose rolling blackouts over the next two days and warned millions could lose power this week. ISO officials said two natural gas power plants in California had gone offline, demand for electricity was higher than they expected, and not enough power was available from other states to close the gap.

Wolak, of Stanford, said the state should make efforts to keep gas-power plants around until battery storage technology for solar plants can be ramped up.

One long-time industry official agreed.

“Some folks in the environmental community want to shut down all the gas plants. That would be a disaster,” said Jan Smutny Jones, CEO of the Independent Energy Producers Association, a trade association representing solar, wind, geothemal and gas power plants. “Last night 60% of the power in the ISO was being produced by those gas plants. They are your insurance policy to get through heat waves.”

Many of the state’s gas plants have become less competitive because they are more expensive to run than solar, he said. In fact, some have been shutting down on their own because utilities are buying more power from solar and wind.

Jones also said utilities should be required to sign more contracts with generating companies to lock up power to provide a better cushion during heat waves and other events, even if they never use that power. Some utilities have resisted because of the cost.

“Nobody likes to pay for insurance,” he said. “But if you need a heart transplant, or your house burns down, you’re glad you had it.”

[…]

Mercury News

Natural gas is supposed to work 24/7. Solar is supposed to stop working as the Sun goes down… Therefore, when two natural gas-fired power plants went offline… “It was actually gas that failed,” while solar performed as designed. The problem with this line of thinking (or lack thereof), is that all power plants are subject to going offline for mechanical reasons, often related to weather.

When you are relying on natural gas as your “insurance” policy and you keep dialing back your coverage as your potential need for that insurance is growing, you’re literally playing with fire.

From the Soviet Union of Concerned Scientists:

Natural Gas Power Plant Retirements in California
MARK SPECHT, ENERGY ANALYST | FEBRUARY 25, 2019

As the rest of the country rushes to build natural gas power plants, California continues to downsize its fleet. While the official numbers are not yet in, 2018 appears to have been a big year for natural gas power plant retirements in California.

California saw three big plant retirements last year: Encina (854 MW), Mandalay (560 MW), and Etiwanda (640 MW). The retirement of Encina and Mandalay was no surprise – those two plants used ocean water for cooling, and California has been phasing out plants that use that cooling technology because of its harmful effects on marine life. On the other hand, Etiwanda shut down simply because it was not making enough money. While California has figured out solutions to keep the electric grid operating reliably without the Mandalay and Etiwanda power plants, Encina is being replaced by the Carlsbad Energy Center, a new 500 MW natural gas power plant.

A dwindling fleet

These retirements in 2018 continue California’s downward trend in natural gas power plant capacity. 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.

[…]

Soviet Union of Concerned Scientists
Soviet Union of Concerned Scientists

Since 2013, California has shut down 5,000 MW of natural gas-fired generating capacity and on August 17, 2020, they were looking at a 4,400 MW shortfall as the Sun was going down.

Too fracking funny!

How do people get to be this stupid?

According to LinkedIn Dharna Noor, author of the Gizmodo article, has a 2014 BA in political philosophy, social science and vocal music. Shana Lazerow is an environmental attorney (’nuff said). The energy analyst for the Soviet Union of Concerned Scientists has even more humorous qualifications:

Mr. Specht earned a BA in integrated science and science in human culture from Northwestern University, and an MA in philosophy from the University of Otago in New Zealand.

SUoCS

191 thoughts on “Gizmodo Blames Natural Gas for California’s Rolling Black Outs

  1. Disposable technology, renewable drivers. Irregular energy, environmental hazards. Flora, fauna, and people are at risk for a green return. The Green Blight does not live up to the political and quasi-religious myths that its proponents and investors demand that we accept on faith.

  2. I am not one to complain that someone should not offer an opinion because they have the wrong credentials. Rather one shouldn’t offer an opinion if one has no idea what they are speaking of. However, this would require people be intelligent enough to recognize their limitations. Most cannot.

      • David, I think you can call attention to stupid, but you can’t fix it. Kalifornia reminds me of the Jim Croce song “like a fool in a hurry I took her to my room…”. Afterward, Jim spent 10 years in prison. Kalifornia now realizes they shouldn’t have done that (cut back dependable power in favor of greenie nonsense), but it’s too late, so they can spend 10 years in figurative prison while they rebuild gas or nuke. Wait for it.

        • ???? That was just a song not real and the character was supposed to spend 20 years in prison and be released at 45. Jim Croce was on tour and died in a plane crash when he was just 30 – and he was planning to retire from that because he couldn’t stand being away from his young family.

          Next month, September 20th will be the 17th anniversary of his death.

    • Kevin it’s called the dunning-kruger effect. I blame our education system for the apparent proliferation of stupid overeducated individuals that have been awarded meaningless academic credentials. I’ll bet Spechts MA is on the philosophy of navel gazing.

      Mike

  3. Social… environmental justice are relativistic conceptions of each moral and quasi-moral imperative are injustice everywhere.

  4. I call total bs on this one….” These are places that historically didn’t need air conditioning, and now they do”

    • Areas that were once rural and greenspace and are now paved over could give that result. Nothing to do with climate though. Most of the records were set in the 1930’s. They’re lucky its cooled off so much.

    • No one needs airconditioning ever. That is us humans always wanting to make our life better if we can.

        • I think Jeroen was being sarcastic and poignant all at the same time. The Marxists deplore our capitalist striving for decadence, but really we just want to get a sound nights sleep and not sweat buckets. The Marxists want to work us like rented donkeys to tax us to death to then hand out the money to their political friends who are running the moneymills, oops did I say that outloud!, windmills.

    • Latitude
      Yes, most of the contribution to the rising average temperature is from an increasing daily minimum temperature. So, places could show an increasing average and still have little or no need for air conditioning. I lived in California from 1955 to 2003 and never had a house or car with air conditioning. Yet, it was often over 100 in the Summer and I was rarely even uncomfortable. The air is usually dry and the body does a decent job of keeping itself cool with an assist from a box fan. However, I did find that when it got to about 110, it felt better to roll up the windows on my car.

        • There are places that can’t join the first world without air conditioning, Singapore, for example.

          Air conditioning. Air conditioning was a most important invention for us, perhaps one of the signal inventions of history. It changed the nature of civilization by making development possible in the tropics.

          Without air conditioning you can work only in the cool early-morning hours or at dusk. The first thing I did upon becoming prime minister was to install air conditioners in buildings where the civil service worked. This was key to public efficiency. – Lee Kuan Yew, founder of modern Singapore.

          Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore from a sleepy fishing village to the third richest country in the world on a per capita basis.

          Air conditioning is a necessity, not a luxury, for a modern developed economy. Without it, your productivity slides into the ditch for several months of the year.

      • I lived in Texas and New Mexico for 4 years total as a young child in the 1950s. Neither our homes nor our cars had air conditioning. It has only been relatively recently that it is considered a necessity for life. Certainly it is worthwhile to have the energy infrastructure to have it, though.

        Maybe California is intent on returning to those “good old days”. I’m glad my state has more intelligent and more wise people in it than they obviously do.

        • I lived in NM from 2001-2004, didn’t have an air conditioner but my swamp cooler turned the housed, in the wife’s words, into a “Meat Locker”. Did I need it? Not with the dry desert heat but it sure made me more comfortable until the sun went down. Most of my life has been spent in the PNW without an AC unit. When we’ve had one the wife doesn’t let me run it when she’s home anyway. I swear she’s not warm until it’s >90F!

  5. What do we call failure?
    Solar fails every single evening! Wind fails so regularly that we just don’t call it failure and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it anyway. When the sun is shining and the solar is producing it can go away in a heartbeat and does so regularly with every passing cloud.
    These people are clowns who wallow in their own personal disinformation universe. We have to call it out for the nonsense it is. We need smart meters that can be disconnected and people can decide in advance if they only want non-fossil fueled power. Those that do can then be cut off and the rest of us can carry on with life.

    • “Wind fails so regularly that we just don’t call it failure and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it anyway.”

      It must be stressful for the person who has to watch the windmill output and try to keep the load balanced. Things are going along great, and then the wind stops blowing. Do alarm bells go off when this happens?

      So what is the solution according to the alarmists? They want to add more windmills.

      Here’s a clue: It doesn’t matter how many windmills you have, if the wind isn’t blowing, none of them are producing power.

      Windmills and ground-based, industrial solar are not capable of powering society. If you don’t like CO2, then you better get used to using nuclear.

      Look at all the complications and problems the lying Climategate Charlatans have caused. They are as bad as the Chicoms when it comes to harming the human condition.

    • John,
      Wind and Solar are intermittent and unreliable *by design*, which means that whatever they do, they are operating “as designed”. Hardly fair to compare them to plants that are designed to run 24×7 at greater than 90% reliability, but the people like Dharna Noor either don’t know the difference or don’t care. Either way, their opinions on the subject can be considered ignorant propaganda and immediately discarded.

    • John says, “Solar fails every single evening!”

      Yes, but as this failure is solars nature, you can’t fault it, at least according to these yahoos. ( I on the other hand, have no problem blaming them for choosing it, and for taking my money to pay for it.)

  6. I don’t know, David, shouldn’t natural gas plants be required to stand by at any cost as an essential public safety consideration even if they make no money whilst solar and wind are mandated preferred sources instead, just so renewables can continue their escalation toward that heart worming [sic(k)] California virtue-signaled dream of ENTIRELY. Also the actual electrical generation expertise of Ms. Noor and the others must surely remain unquestionable, as they only desire to throw what little min-noor they can onto a most urgent subject (noor being Arabic for light).

      • If/when you figure out a way that consistently works would you mind passing it on?

        I could use some help in that department.

  7. “It was actually gas that failed,” said Shana Lazerow, a staff attorney at environmental justice nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment. “We should be talking about how gas is unreliable.””

    Total BS, and I can see why you’re head up about it. A properly designed/executed/maintained peaker system could have kept up without even breathing hard. So, if nat gas peaker capacity is part of your green grid reliability plan, then it needs to be paid for as part of that plan. And Governor Newsome’s investigation needs to center on why this capacity was dropped. If, in toto, the green up plan is not competitive, with ALL costs considered, then jet it.

    But to refresh – ALL costs – is a 2 way street. Cal has beaucoup external oil and gas costs that have been socialized on the populace. Leaky gas storage fields, 10-11 figures worth of unfunded asset retirement obligations, a still Trumpian YUGE oil and gas production AGW impact, etc. Apples/apples, I’m predicting that the recommend will be to add gas peaker capacity and continue on…..

    • California has three problems:

      1) Solar predictably rolls off while demand is ramping up.
      2) Unlike Texas, wind is unpredictable.
      3) Solar + wind can’t carry base-load.

      • Huh, David? I’ve lived in Texas for over 40 years now, and I know for a fact that we here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area almost had a similar debacle to that of California in one hot summer in either 2013 or 2014, I think, when the wind turbines (effectively mandated by our dumb State Legislature) in West Texas stopped running because the wind had just died down for an extended period of the summer (as is mostly usual, even around here.

        I heartily agree with your other two points, David.

        • Wind in Texas predictably works well in spring & fall and not in summer. It’s predictable.

    • re: AGW impact

      That’s a modeled, not real hazard. Even then, the models are in denial, and have to be forced, steered, to go along to get along with the sociopolitical consensus.

    • “if nat gas peaker capacity is part of your green grid reliability plan, then it needs to be paid for as part of that plan.”

      Agree, and:

      Does windmills not get paid for switching off on occasions where there is too much wind-power?
      So why should the “real” power plants not receive payment for turning down output at unscheduled times?

  8. RE: “Since 2013, California has shut down 5,000 MW of natural gas-fired generating capacity and on August 17, 2020, they were looking at a 4,400 MW shortfall as the Sun was going down. Too fracking funny! How do people get to be this stupid?

    It’s a question we may never get answered, David! You could not have summed up the stupidity more succinctly, yet a majority of Californians voted for and will defend this as being ‘the right decision’. How could they be sooooo stupid? It’s very basic math and easily understandable… yet they don’t understand. My compassionate heart sympathizes deeply with the folks that argued and voted against this stupid CA energy policy. They are forced to participate in the stupid consequences caused by the stupid energy policies their stupid neighbors voted for and defend today!

    • Plus, I read in the excerpts that Wind failed by 1000 megawatts, at the same time Natural Gas failed by 400 megawatts. Is it only government where 400 is larger than 1000, or only California government, or only Democrats in government “Service”?

  9. All this shows is how delusional these warmists are. When we had blackouts in Victoria last year they tried to blame coal. They then conclude that this means it would be better if only we had more renewables.
    It’s actually the opposite conclusion that should be made. The grid worked pretty well when all you had was baseload energy and then renewables were introduced to replace baseload but needed to be backed up by fossil fuel generation because they are intermittent.
    From this I would conclude that we should get rid of renewables and just use base load.

  10. On further reflection, technically, they’re right. Without reliable energy, the blackouts wouldn’t have been merely “rolling”, but simply pervasive, perhaps progressive, as Green Blight resources would become intermittently viable with the green solar driver and winds that blew within range. #SaveTheBirds

  11. Funny how all the other states that use natural gas don’t have these electrical blackout issues.

  12. Yes the solar/wind worked as designed. The design is make the consumers bear the cost of insufficient back-up by imposing rolling blackouts. This much has been obvious from the get go.

    Consumers think blackouts are a bug. Leftists, whose sole desire is to impoverish, humiliate, and demoralize the lower classes regard it as a prime feature of the system. The lower orders must be made to taste the lash, and love the punishment.

    • I don’t know how the “J-Manual” has changed in the Era of Carbon Guilt, but when you ask a contractor for a bid on a new or replacement central air conditioner, they use formulas based on your level of house insulation, the amount of window area, number of people in the house, anticipated use of showers and kitchen appliances adding humidity and so on.

      These formulas are “worst case” because the contractor doesn’t want to sell you an air conditioner and then you coming back to them complaining that it doesn’t keep the house cool. These formulas also have a “margin of safety” in them so they end up selling you an air conditioner that could be oversized to your requirements, especially if you are careful about drawing the window shades on hot summer days and if you avoid a lot of cooking under those conditions. Besides a larger air conditioner having a higher installed price, a larger air conditioner that runs less often draws less humidity out of the air, and in humid climates such as Florida, the American South, and even the Midwest that gets frontal systems bringing up hot humid air from the Gulf of Mexico, this can leave the house feeling cold and clammy.

      You could introduce building codes that limit the size of the air conditioner a contractor could install. You add up the amount of fossil-peaker-replace-wind-and-solar generating capacity, de-rate the gas turbine plants for the warmer inlet air reducing their power, and tell people, “this is the maximum sized air conditioner you are allowed to have because if you need more air conditioning than this, the power company simply won’t be able to supply you with the required amount of electricity. On exceptionally hot days, you can run your A/C full blast, but it might warm up in your house over part of the day.”

      I know my central air is oversized on this criterion. Admittedly it was a summer when a nuclear plant was offline for maintenance on its heat exchangers or some such thing, but when it got to the point that nags went out over the TV about dialing up your thermostat, my unit was anywhere near running constantly.

      The generating plants have a certain maximum output, the loads, such as air conditioners used in summer have a certain maximum electric input, and you match the two. Easy peasey!

  13. If there is one thing all climate scientists agree on, it’s that in the absence of a sufficiently long data history the periodicity of short term climate cycles are not established.
    copy
    … much of the evidence for existence of the cycle was established on the basis of auroral records [Gleissberg, 1958; Link, 1963; Gleissberg, 1965; Siscoe, 1980; Feynman, 1983; Feynman and Fougere, 1984]. The most decisive evidence for the Gleissberg periodicity in solar–terrestrial phenomena was brought by a maximum entropy spectral analysis of the number of aurora reported per decade in Europe and the Orient from 450 A.D. to 1450 A.D. [Feynman and Fougere, 1984]. It revealed a strong and stable line at 88.4 ± 0.7 years for the time span of the last ∼11 Gleissberg cycles which cover an interval of almost 1000 years. Another confirmation of 88‐year cycle was presented by Attolini et al. [1988, 1990] from spectral analysis by Blackman‐Tukey (correlation‐spectral) method of decennial frequency of aurorae record over the 689 B.C.–1519 A.D. compiled by Attolini et al. [1988].

    1988 (IMHO) is the approximate end year of climate science and the beginning of climate science manipulation and propaganda and it keeps getting worse. currently we read:

    “It was actually gas that failed,” said Shana Lazerow, a staff attorney at environmental justice nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment. “We should be talking about how gas is unreliable.”
    “It was actually gas that failed,” said Shana Lazerow, a staff attorney at environmental justice nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment. “We should be talking about how gas is unreliable.”

    “Let’s be real, why do we have heat waves right now, across the western U.S.? It’s because of climate change,” she said. “Parts of California … have warmed more than 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit]. These are places that historically didn’t need air conditioning, and now they do because they’re seeing record high temperatures for days in a row, so people are going to need more electricity. And that is because we have burned fossil fuels for over 100 years.”

    Lazaro doesn’t appear to be too interested in climate cycles, and instead clings to her CO2 climate control knob. I find interesting news reports that Death Valley recently saw it’s highest temperature since 1931, 89 years ago, Hmmm , what was that again? …”a strong and stable line at 88.4 ± 0.7 years for the time span of the last ∼11 Gleissberg cycles ” …ya, ya, not causation.

  14. All of this rather reminds me of something a Libertarian Party presidential candidate said quite a few years ago.

    Don’t remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect that: “Government breaks your leg and then hands you a pair of crutches. It then takes credit for your ability to get around on those crutches without mentioning that it broke your leg in the first place.”

    Don’t know if and when the climate alarmist narrative is ever going to be discredited once and for all. But when it finally is, a lot of people in California and elsewhere are going to look extremely stupid.

    • Like anybody who buys “You didn’t build that (business of yours), you were just standing there while we made you pay for it all!”, if I may paraphrase just some of what politicos shamelessly get away with of late.

    • Libertarian Party candidates tend to be naïve about how the country works.

      I mean, consider the Affordable Care Act. A modestly prosperous self-employed person tells themselves, “I was paying $500/month for pretty good health insurance and this law that was supposed to improve things replaced it with $1000/month payment with a $10,000 annual deductible I didn’t have before. What kind of stupid improvement is this?”

      The doubled monthly payment and the huge deductible is actually a tax that got imposed on you by this new system, where a guy with a disabled kid needing very expensive long-term treatment who is much less prosperous qualifies for subsidy on the Insurance Exchanges. This guy will raise holy heck when interviewed by the TV station about a plan to change this system whereas the reporter doesn’t bother to visit to tell the TV viewers about your experience.

      So it is more like the government breaks your leg and hands someone else a pair of crutches who will be crying about his sad story about the plan to take those crutches away.

      The Libertarian fallacy is that not breaking your leg will raise general prosperity enough so that other guy can pay for his own crutches. What is missing from the equation is that the exploitation of hydrocarbon fuels, remember the original research on the technology was government funded, has, can and will raise general prosperity to such an extent that having your legs broken to pay for Tiny Tim’s crutches won’t annoy you all that much. That is the secret sauce of how the economy boomed for the last 3 years, and that secret sauce will be gone if a certain guy with bad hair loses reelection.

      The scandal of what is happening in California is not that people have to sweat for short stretches from the rolling blackouts. At least there is natural gas backup, even if it is coming up a few hundred kilowatt hours short. The scandal is that people actually believe in the “Net Zero (carbon emission) by 2050” slogan that is printed on my monthly power company bill a long distance from California. This will really impoverish us.

      • The belief capitalism is the only means by which prosperity can be raised for all is, not being naive, it is just reality. Arguing over whether which candidate will be better at using government to create prosperity is what is naive.

  15. Even if it was a gas fired plant that was the source of the 475 MW drop out. So what?
    CA officials are planning on mothballing gas fired power plants that produce many times that amount over the next decade.
    And no matter how many solar plants you have, they still go to zero well before the sun goes down.

  16. CEC generation capacity data at their website shows that California had 48,912 MWs of natural gas generating capacity in 2013 and as of 2019 only 40,383 MW’s of natural gas generating capacity remains.
    Thus CEC generation capacity data by resource type shows a reduction between 2013 and 2019 of 8,520 MW’s.
    To use a famous climate alarmist phrase “It’s worse than we thought.”
    Excellent article. Thanks

    • 40,383 mW of natural gas capacity, 475 mW of it goes off-line (1% more or less) and it’s natural gas generation that’s to blame for the shortfall? How’s that for reliable base load reserve? What a State.

    • Don’t forget that San Onofre was shut down in 2013. That’s another 2.25GW of dependable power lost and there have coal plants shut as well.

      It’s even worse than the picture you present.

  17. David, I’m disappointed, What no, “The Stupid it Burns” cartoon . How could that have been more on the mark.

  18. Fine. Just shut down all the NG plants tomorrow since you can’t depend on them. Problem solved.

  19. Natural gas plants are unreliable? Funny how that only seems to apply to those in California – no where else.

    Everywhere else we build enough extra capacity into a system to absorb a plant having to shut down – you just ramp up one of the backups that are always online. In the Green Energy world there IS no additional capacity for failure – you just fail. I guess night fall is a failure as well.

    These people make me laugh (I laugh so that I do not cry). They are grossly stupid. And put in charge. Wow.

  20. And now we are in so much smoke from the forest fires that the solar probably is not working again.
    Governor DumDum you have to be put out to pasture and left to feed on dead grass and no water.

    California was once the Golden State. Now we are becoming a Third World State. Recall Newsom !!!!!!!
    Boot out Pelosi. Kick out Carbohal. Extinguish Harris. Cancel Maxine Waters.

    Lets vote this California State Red and it will again be the Golden State attracting people companies and money.

  21. Mr. Middleton,
    I commend you for your ability to find humor in this ginormous clusterf*ck and object lesson. Ordinarily, one would expect and hope that those responsible for honest errors of judgment would learn from their mistakes. In this case, I despair of that hope.

    I’m afraid I find it sad. I really and truly do not wish to live in a state or a country governed by idiots elected by morons.

  22. We get this in Australia , they start talking about “unreliable coal” Yeah sure unreliable coal that powered the country almost flawlessly for 70 and is the basis for everything you take for granted you idiots.

    “Unreliable coal” because now you really really depend on it because wind and solar doesnt work, so its getting worked harder and harder. You close down coal fired plants because coal bad, so remaining units get run so much it gets harder to do regular maintenance, and if any go offline for maintenance or heaven forefend a failure then its headlines of “unreliable coal”

    Meanwhile solar dissapears every night and wind may just decide to stop for a few days because , well, wind. Yet they are reliable in some people tortured mental cinemas. Coal=Gas for California , but the stupid remains the same.

    • And just remember that when the amount of asynchronous renewable power in a network exceeds the amount of coal and gas synchronous power, it may be impossible to recover from a blackout. Then its ‘goodnight Irene’. Who do you blame then?

  23. Just get a battery to last the three hours after the sun goes does 🙂
    Easy you may only need a hundred of the Tesla plants they have in South Australia.

    • Even if the battery does manage to last 3 hours, where are you going to find enough power to charge it up so it can last 3 hours tomorrow?

      • Chaamjamal, the link you provide includes:
        liquid-metal pumping has been limited by the corrosion of metal infrastructures. Here we demonstrate a ceramic, mechanical pump that can be used to continuously circulate liquid tin at temperatures of around 1,473–1,673 kelvin. Our approach to liquid-metal pumping is enabled by the use of ceramics for the mechanical and sealing components, but owing to the brittle nature of ceramics their use requires careful engineering.

        High temperature liquid metal pumping is a yet to be perfected technology. Molten salt nuclear reactors will not be licensed until this high temperature issue has been proven safe at operating temperature for at least 20 years. Therefore the effort to perfect high-temp. ceramics has merit, but putting this silver saddle on a mule (worth less than nothing wind and solar) is as miss guided as using hopelessly expensive lithium batteries for storage (IMHO).

    • Another consideration: when an “expert” starts a sentence off with the non-phrase phrase: “Let’s be real…” they are not being real at all.

  24. I am commenting about your article regarding battery storage for California — I did not see a way to comment on it directly. In your article you make the all to common mistake of confusing power and energy. Power is given in watts — megawatts or gigawatts, for example. Energy is is given in watt-hours. Energy is what we pay for on our monthly bill, not power. Batteries are a form of energy storage and are best defined by watt-hours. A battery that can generate a gigawatt of power for one second is not of much use. The peak power output of the batteries is also of interest since it doesn’t do much good to have a megawatt-hour of energy stored and a peak output power of 10 watts. You constantly switched back and forth between energy and power in your article and never used the correct unit of energy — watt-hours. I appreciate your interest in this area, but please learn the correct terminology.

    • Ok bill and David,
      Yes please can someone put a ballpark battery estimate on this.
      From my visual California is down approximately 3000mw for three hours.
      The Tesla battery plant in South Australia is rated at 150MW/200MW/hr
      But it’s aim is either to provide 70mw for 10 min or 30MW for three hours.
      So I guess you need 100 of theses battery storage plants.
      I’m interested is proper estimate based on this actual event.
      How much $ on batteries to stop blackouts in California.
      My additional thoughts are the battery needed for hot places is way smaller than for cold places
      Thanks in advance

      • There are more qualified people frequently posting on WUWT to answer your question about the cost of storage, but few comment. Probably because the idea of using lithium batteries for storage is so expensive it’s not worthy of consideration. The recent statement by Governor Newsom admitting to a 4000 Mw gap got me curious of costs. Here’s what I came up with. It’s ballpark, but conservative (IMHO).

        Even the most optimistic (lying through their green teeth) battery storage promoters shouldn’t be taken seriously when projecting utility scale Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) at less than $200/ kw.hr. ($200,000/mw.hr, $200 Million/1000 mw.hr. Getting through the 3 PM – 9 PM peak requires $200mm X 6 hrs for every 1,000 mw of demand = $1.2 billion. California’s Governor Newsom admitted to a 4000 mW renewable “gap”. 4000 mW: 4 x $1.2B=$4.8B for 6 hours of peak storage.

          • A utility scale peaking lithium battery storage system requires four essentials:
            Willfully uninformed voters, crooked politicians, talented snakeoil salespersons and tons of green cash. A toxic blend if there ever was one.

    • A minor point: Yes, I do pay for energy, but what I expect is power, enough power to keep my refrigerator A/C. lights etc running.

  25. “How do people get to be this stupid?” We let them; we are far too gentle on them. And the MSM let them and we are far too gentle on them.

    • 4 eyes, you say we are too gentle on stupid people. So, in my posting above, instead of mentioning willfully uninformed voters, I should more correctly refer to them as irresponsible stupid idiots, which is really what they are. hmmm, I need to think about that. Probably wouldn’t meet WUWT standards for polite discourse so I better not use that frame of reference. I retract.

  26. > “Soviet Union of Concerned Scientists”

    I see what you did there and wholeheartedly approve.

  27. “It was actually gas that failed,” said Shana Lazerow, a staff attorney at environmental justice nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment. “We should be talking about how gas is unreliable.”
    .”Let’s be real, why do we have heat waves right now, across the western U.S.? It’s because of climate change,” she said….. And that is because we have burned fossil fuels for over 100 years.”

    Lazaro doesn’t appear to be too interested in climate cycles, and instead clings to her CO2 climate control knob. I find interesting news reports that Death Valley recently saw it’s highest temperature since 1931, 89 years ago, Hmmm , what was that again? …”a strong and stable line at 88.4 ± 0.7 years for the time span of the last ∼11 Gleissberg cycles ” …ya, ya, not causation.
    Source:
    The most decisive evidence for the Gleissberg periodicity in solar–terrestrial phenomena was brought by a maximum entropy spectral analysis of the number of aurora reported per decade in Europe and the Orient from 450 A.D. to 1450 A.D. [Feynman and Fougere, 1984]. It revealed a strong and stable line at 88.4 ± 0.7 years for the time span of the last ∼11 Gleissberg cycles which cover an interval of almost 1000 years.

  28. The Left lives in a bizarre fantasy world populated with “peaceful protesters”, where Trump is Hitler, wind and solar are viable replacements for fossil fuel generation, and where the President wants to be re-elected by stopping everyone from voting.

  29. If Californians believe this, lets give it a real test. Turn off all non-renewables for a week and see what happens.

  30. “Let’s be real, why do we have heat waves right now, across the western U.S.? It’s because of climate change,” she said.

    No concept of history at all. As if we never had heat waves in the past.

  31. “perfect storm” of stupidity. But everyone gets a participation trophy and we will continue to gas-light the public and subsidize the unreliable at the expense of the reliable. Because………climate change.
    An inverted meritocracy is no way to run a state, but does provide a strong incentive to run from a state.

  32. 4:10 p.m. to 5:10 p.m. Total wind output increased quickly requiring other generation to ramp down quickly
    5:10 p.m. to 6:05 p.m. Total wind decreased quickly requiring other generation to ramp up quickly. CAISO ACE was -1421 MW.
    6:13 p.m. While recovering our ACE, a generator ramped down quickly from 400 MW.

    Do you doubt the generator that ramped down quickly from 400MW was a gas generator, David?

    This is why having a large capacity of battery storage on the grid helps its stability enormously. It only needs to supplement the supply while the gas generation is ramped up and it can do that with zero lag. And as gas generation is ramped down, the batteries can soak up any excess supply.

    Most people see the batteries totally wrongly, thinking they need to supply the grid overnight or something, but that’s not what they’re for at all.

    • Tim,
      Please help me understand this a little better.
      You are saying a battery back up is only there to accommodate the time it takes to ramp up replacement generation, from perhaps another gas fired plant. Is that what you are suggesting?
      If that is the case, then tell me why is there any need for the battery involvement at all? Why not simply have spare gas fired plants on hot stand by?
      Where is the need for batteries if you accept that gas or any fossil fuel generation is essential?
      Just make sure you have enough of what you know works, ready for when they are needed.

      • Rod asks “Why not simply have spare gas fired plants on hot stand by?”

        That’s what they do have but they still take time to ramp up. Hot standby doesn’t mean instantaneously able to deliver hundreds of MW into the grid. Batteries on the other hand vary instantaneously with the load. We dont know why the gas generator failed but ramping up and down by hundreds of MW in short time is no trivial thing and must stress the generator. Something happened. It broke.

        At the end of the day, California is skating much too close to the edge with its dispatchable supply capacity and it needs something to smooth out the load at the very least, and probably more dispatchable capacity to cater for peak demand.

        • The way the instantaneous thing works is you have 10 power stations able to supply 40MW each via inertia (which kicks in automatically) and governor control. You accept a small lowering of frequency until extra plant is up to speed. You restore the inertia and headroom reserve.

          Batteries can cope with some wind flicker, but it was highly revealing that when the Loy Yang plant tripped out (550MW of generation at the time) the Musk battery in South Australia responded promptly with a peak of 7MW of output – deemed a great triumph by greenies. Not much use against losing 550MW, which was in reality covered by spinning reserve and inertia elsewhere in the system.

          • It doesn’t add up say “The way the instantaneous thing works is […]”

            But the way the “instantaneous” thing works is that the gas fired generator can increase its output as the gas is turned up and it can do it at a rate that’s measured in MW increase per minute called the ramp rate.

            Its a defined property of the generator and is known in the market
            eg for Australia the rules are
            https://aemc.gov.au/news-centre/media-releases/final-rule-made-to-refine-generator-ramp-rate-requ

            Electricity generators ramp up, or down, their electricity output in response to changing conditions in the wholesale market. The rate at which this occurs is specified by generators as a component of the offers they make to the market, and, in some circumstances minimum ramp rates requirements are necessary to encourage efficient market outcomes.

            Generators must submit a minimum ramp rate that is the lower of 3 MW per minute or 3 per cent of their maximum capacity, except where it can be demonstrated that a lower ramp rate is required for technical or safety reasons.

            To increase say 400MW takes an appreciable amount of time to reach. Inertia helps smooth out moment to moment fluctuations.

        • Tim,

          I think you are missing the point. Batteries may be able to provide short term backup while other capacity is brought on line. But the period the backup was needed in CA to prevent the black/brown-outs was *not* short term. You would need much more battery supply to handle the situation CA saw.

          It’s the same issue telephone companies have had to fight for decades. When the power goes out how long do you design the batteries to last? You *could* design the battery capacity to last for 24 hour while a diesel generator is brought in but the cost would be so huge it isn’t feasible. So you design the batteries to last for three hours and put a backup generator on-site. The batteries only need to last long enough to bring the generator up to operating temperature.

          The problem in CA is that they didn’t have enough battery supply to last over the period needed to bring alternative generating capacity on line. In fact, they didn’t have enough alternative generating capacity to bring on line!

          short term battery capacity is not equal to long term battery capacity.

          • Tim writes “But the period the backup was needed in CA to prevent the black/brown-outs was *not* short term. You would need much more battery supply to handle the situation CA saw.”

            Actually you missed MY point. We dont know why the gas generator dropped out while it was ramping up its supply but I’m speculating that it *could* have been due to issues associated with ramping up and down which, when you’re dealing with hundreds of MW, is non trivial.

        • If your comment is correct, then they must have been using these massive batteries to stabilize the grid for the last 100 years or so.

          • If your comment is correct, then they must have been using these massive batteries to stabilize the grid for the last 100 years or so.

            Maybe now would be a good time for you to investigate how dispatch in the market works 😛

    • I think the 475 MW that went offline earlier in the day were the two natural gas fired power plants that failed. This was at the beginning of a series of events that led to CAISO scrambling to find some combination of 4,400 MW of additional capacity and/or load reduction.

      If California was looking for the most expensive, least efficient solution, more solar plus batteries would be the answer. Since they do seem to be looking for the most expensive, least efficient solution, it’s unclear why they didn’t have adequate battery storage capacity.

      The answer is likely that California doesn’t have a infinite supply of other people’s money.

      $Solar + $battery storage ~ 2 * $Solar

      • Consider the utopian grid where everyone has battery storage in their homes and businesses capable of holding the entire grid for a few hours or more. Now peak demand is a non-issue and instead the generators can run to optimal efficiencies, supplying the day’s energy with excess being used the charge the batteries and when demand exceeds generation, the batteries discharge.

        How much do you think it would be worth to to have that level of grid stability, that level of generation efficiency, FCAS taken care of and remove the need for generators being on standby to cater for peak demands?

        • We have grid stability in Texas without any of that, with much lower electricity rates in Texas, without any of that, because we rely on very little solar power. On rare occasions, when it’s extremely hot or cold, we manage to avoid rolling blackouts.

          In the nearly 40 years I’ve lived in Dallas County, the only rolling blackouts I can recall were Super Bowl week 2011. A few coal-fired plants went offline due to freezing pipes. Since they didn’t want to disrupt the Super Bowl activities, they imitated rolling blackouts everywhere else in North Texas.

          It would be worth $0 to me to fund a “utopia” just in case that happened again.

          Last summer, we were without power for 5 days due to a Derecho-type storm. Battery backup would have pretty well been worthless. A diesel or gas powered generator would have been useful.

          • “It would be worth $0 to me to fund a “utopia” just in case that happened again.”

            That’s the beauty of having individuals fund the batteries rather than a centralized corporate owned battery farm. You get to make that choice.

            “Last summer, we were without power for 5 days due to a Derecho-type storm. Battery backup would have pretty well been worthless.”

            Not if the energy supplying the grid is decentralised. Currently a few feeders being taken out will take out entire sections of the grid. Not so if every home is its own generator. Sure, if the batteries dont have sufficient capacity, then they may not hold it for long overnight for example, but with solar charging that might still be way better than nothing and a utopian grid would hold it overnight 😉

            Once we get cheap solid state batteries that last for many, many recharge cycles, perhaps you’ll change your mind.

          • Might as well have said, “Once we get cheap”… Unicorn dust, amoeba farts or Mr. Fusion Machines with flux capacitors

          • Good post, TTTM. Cal blackouts, whether they are on the increase or not, are still rare. In fact, Californians have accepted the choice off between interruptible power at lower cost, and not, for at least 25 years that I know of. Even the (now mostly shut in uneconomic) offshore platforms – which in Cal used shore power – did the arithmetic and found that the savings were worth the occasional extra 6 figure downhole pump change (from the increased starts).

            My son and his family in the bay area will be installing the battery/solar combo soon. No AC, so no problem. Their annual challenge is the trek to visit DIL’s parents in Torrance,to get the youngsters away from of the wildfire air. Thankfully, since they already pre-podded with the alt.g’parents, CV won’t be a problem..

          • “Although, when you’re paying nearly $0.20/kWh for unreliable electricity, rooftop solar and batteries probably feels like an “investment.””

            He knows better. I know better. It’s an indulgence. Son/DIL – scientists who are now working from home -can afford it. And it would save them a trip to the dump in the unlikely event of having to dump a minivan full of spoiled freezer food.

            He grew up in oilfield towns on the Central coast with about the same frequency of blackouts/voluntary interruptions. We hardly even noticed them…..

        • Tim,

          Your use of the word “utopian” is a dead giveaway that the proposal is not realistic. So is the term “a few hours or more”.

          Your plan is so expensive that it is impossible to implement. Assuming $10K per household for installation and 16M households in the US you would be talking around $160 Trillion to implement the plan. Just not feasible.

          • I believe you meant $160B which seems pretty feasible to me. But even if you mean 160M “homes” then its only $1.6T which is also feasible given your government gave about that much away recently.

            Its not completely a pipe dream either. How many homes already have the solar component? There is considerable demand for “green energy” in society right now. Whether you like it or not, its got momentum.

          • I know quite a few people who put in solar systems and now they are replacing most of the panels, at a much higher price, and will have to replace them again, and again, etc etc. Gas is THE fuel of the future, any who refuse to acceptthis fact should be forcibly from every level of American government and academia. Solar and wind are niche toys, at best, totally unreliable and dangerous in any regard.

          • How many homes have the solar component. Not many, and now that the subsidies are being removed, so are a lot of the solar components.

          • Where is even $160B going to come from?

            Do *you* have a money tree? I don’t. You said individuals would fund this, not government. You keep moving the goalposts. Who’s going to pay when a large hailstorm happens?? Homeowner insurance? Up goes your rate – just like an unintended tax increase.

            I’ve looked at this for my home. A $10 K investment will give 12 hours of backup. The problem is that we regularly have 3-4 days of overcasts meaning I would still need a backup generator. If I need a backup generator then why would i want to spend another $10K which really offers me nothing?

          • a full functioning individual electric system for each household and for each building in each rental complex, etc for $10K each? Good luck. Unicorn farts are a far better alternative. What about the 16 million plus new exhaust pipes on these newly installed “systems”, see any issues there? Please people, just give it up. wind and solar is worth less than nothing junk, take off the blinders, your shaming yourselves.

          • MarkW writes “How many homes have the solar component.”

            And in California its apparently 230,000 homes. I dont think that counts as “not many”. Our host has them. Where I live in Australia, I look out my window and can count more than a dozen homes with them in close proximity.

        • Just how many trillions of other people’s money were you planning on spending to reach this utopian grid?

          • MarkW wites “Just how many trillions of other people’s money were you planning on spending to reach this utopian grid?”

            None. People can buy it for themselves. I guess you’ll opt not to. And so will many in this thread but that’s your choice.

          • Most people are smart enough to not accelerate expenses, like paying for electricity in advance.

            Accelerating expenses only makes sense in the case of effective hedging strategies. Southwest Airlines hedges jet fuel purchases when oil prices are rising. This enabled SWA to remain profitable during periods when high jet fuel prices were killing other airlines. Of course, SWA took a beating when oil prices collapsed in 2008 and 2015.

            If you believe the claim that solar costs will continue to fall in a Moore’s Law fashion, it makes little sense to invest now. If you think government malfeasance will cause electricity prices to continue to rise, solar might be a good investment.

          • David writes “Most people are smart enough to not accelerate expenses, like paying for electricity in advance.”

            Most people? That’s one strategy but its not the only one. Another strategy is to buy up front to save money over the longer term. The cost of a typical solar installation is paid off before its useful lifespan but you do need to pay up front so its only viable if you can afford it.

            You’re hedging against energy costs increasing and that’s a pretty fair bet. Its very unlikely energy costs will decrease over time.

            Anthony chose to do it and I’d say he is a pretty smart guy.

          • David writes “Quote me in context, rather than lying about what I posted.”

            Your post is directly above mine. If you think I’ve misrepresented you with my quote, then I suggest you explain what you meant rather than suggesting I’ve somehow “lied” by quoting you.

          • Out of context quote:

            Most people are smart enough to not accelerate expenses, like paying for electricity in advance.

            Out of context lie:
            “David writes “Most people are smart enough to not accelerate expenses, like paying for electricity in advance.”

            Most people? That’s one strategy but its not the only one. Another strategy is to buy up front to save money over the longer term.”

            In context quote:

            Most people are smart enough to not accelerate expenses, like paying for electricity in advance.

            Accelerating expenses only makes sense in the case of effective hedging strategies.

          • David writes

            Most people are smart enough to not accelerate expenses, like paying for electricity in advance.

            Accelerating expenses only makes sense in the case of effective hedging strategies.

            Hedging against oil price fluctuations isn’t relevant to the long term price increases over time. What are you trying to say?

          • I Googled it for you…

            What Is Hedging?
            The best way to understand hedging is to think of it as a form of insurance. When people decide to hedge, they are insuring themselves against a negative event’s impact on their finances. This doesn’t prevent all negative events from happening. However, if a negative event does happen and you’re properly hedged, the impact of the event is reduced.

            In practice, hedging occurs almost everywhere. For example, if you buy homeowner’s insurance, you are hedging yourself against fires, break-ins, or other unforeseen disasters.

            https://www.investopedia.com/trading/hedging-beginners-guide/

          • From the comment you quoted out of context:

            If you believe the claim that solar costs will continue to fall in a Moore’s Law fashion, it makes little sense to invest now. If you think government malfeasance will cause electricity prices to continue to rise, solar might be a good investment.

            Rooftop solar is a hedge against government malfeasance, if solar works as advertised.

          • Yes but “The best way to understand hedging is to think of it as a form of insurance.”

            Is not the same as buying an expensive item up front to save money over the longer term. That’s more like an investment. Solar panels eventually pay for themselves and then start saving you money. Another example would be a heat pump. Higher cost up front but lower cost over time.

            They’re not examples of hedging except in the very broadest sense and certainly nothing like your example. Energy costs will go up over the long term. That’s a given.

          • Considering that we now have the lowest oil and natural gas prices that I’ve seen in my adult lifetime and I’m over a half century old, I guess you’re wrong about energy prices, and doubly wrong when considering what share energy costs will have in our budgets in the future as we will get more efficient cars, HVAC and lighting, and consumer electronics as well.
            Similarly, one would have to be a fool to invest in solar and batteries at this time knowing that both are improving, with the latter expected to dramatically improve in the coming years. You would be buying a risky, fragile, obsolete system that won’t last long enough for the expected payback period.

          • “Rooftop solar is a hedge against government malfeasance, if solar works as advertised.”

            Rooftop solar is an investment into energy that offsets against your ongoing energy costs over the life of the panels. Eventually they pay for themselves and thereafter save you money.

            It doesn’t matter what the Government does but it hedges against them causing energy costs to increase beyond their natural market price. Energy costs will increase over the longer term regardless.

          • It’s only an investment, if it adds value over time.

            If the LCOE of installing rooftop solar works out to $0.15/kWh over the 20-yr lifetime of the system, and I can buy electricity from the grid for $0.15/kWh, it’s not an investment. The LCOE of the rooftop solar would have to be substantially less than the current grid price to account for the time-value of money (discount rate).

            If I think the cost of rooftop solar will go down in the future, buying it now is an extreme non-investment.

            If I think government malfeasance will make my electricity more expensive every year, and I don’t think rooftop solar will get much less expensive, the discounted net present value of the solar panels might be positive and it would be a viable investment.

            In places like California and Hawaii, rooftop solar is probably an actual investment.

          • All very well but PV solar does pay for itself. Typically well before their end of life.

            David says “[…]and I can buy electricity from the grid for $0.15/kWh[…]”

            Today. But not in 20 years time when it will be more expensive so you need to take that into account.

            David says “If I think government malfeasance will make my electricity more expensive every year”

            You’ve mentioned this multiple times now. Do you really believe that energy costs only increase because of “government malfeasance” ??

          • The fact that solar panels may recover the initial cost doesn’t make it an investment.

            The only cost that matters when buying electricity from the grid, is the cost over the length of the contract, usually 1 year. Solar panels are a >20-yr commitment.

            In places where government malfeasance is driving up electricity rates and/or degrading the reliability, rooftop solar might be a good investment.


            https://environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2018/2/12/electricity-prices-rose-three-times-more-in-california-than-in-rest-of-us-in-2017

            In the sane world, there is no reason to expect electricity rates to rise. Coal and nuclear power can only get more expensive if government forced them to be. Absent government malfeasance, natural gas will only slowly become more expensive, as demand raises gas prices, while technology lowers generation costs. Wind and solar costs will supposedly continue to fall.

            The only way electricity will become less reliable, is if government forces more wind and solar into the grid and/or impedes the operation of gas, coal and nuclear power plants.

          • All very well but PV solar does pay for itself. Typically well before their end of life.

            The average cost of a 10 kW solar system is currently $29,600 (exclusive of tax credit).

            http://news.energysage.com/how-much-does-the-average-solar-panel-installation-cost-in-the-u-s/

            Assuming a 25% capacity factor, it will generate:

            0.25 x 10 kW x 24 hr/d x 365 d/yr = 21,900 kWh/yr

            At $0.12/kWh, that’s $2,628/yr… Just over 11 years just to break even. If you earned 1% interest on the $29,600 for 11 years, you’d be $7,000 ahead of breaking even on the solar panels.

          • PCMan writes “Considering that we now have the lowest oil and natural gas prices that I’ve seen in my adult lifetime and I’m over a half century old, I guess you’re wrong about energy prices”

            Well I’m the same age and I assure you the prices were considerably lower when I was a young adult. If you’re American they you have a skewed view of oil prices. The rest of the world pays much higher prices than you do.

          • Tim says: ….Well I’m the same age and I assure you the prices were considerably lower when I was a young adult. If you’re American they you have a skewed view of oil prices. The rest of the world pays much higher prices than you do.
            Wrong, I’m Canadian, and like the rest of the Western world dominated by closet communists our energy costs are higher than they should be – eg. At the pumps the price is mostly taxes. Nothing to due with actual energy prices. Instead of worrying about keeping costs and prices low and the grid reliable, government owned utilities waste money on trying to be “sustainable” and handing coupons for mercury-laden light bulbs, etc – not focusing on serving the customer but on being a propaganda organ and a cash cow for socialist vote buying. Again, nothing to do with energy prices. Even a clear headed environmentalist, unspoiled by politics, wouldn’t be forcing solar a wind on the grid now which would give those sources a bad rep – they would probably push for conversion to gas or clean coal, and when h2 production from electrolysis and wind and solar matures, then and only then add in unreliables. But then a clear headed environmentalist wouldn’t be fooled by the propaganda around co2, which is plant food anyway, and would strive to focus on real pollution.

          • Since 1946, the average inflation-adjusted price of oil is just under $47/bbl. I’ve been a petroleum geologist/geophysicist since 1981. Oil is currently less than $47/bbl and has been over most of my career.
            https://inflationdata.com/articles/inflation-adjusted-prices/historical-oil-prices-chart/

            At a little over $2/mcf, the inflation-adjusted price of natural gas is much lower than it has been over most of the past 40 years.

            https://inflationdata.com/articles/inflation-adjusted-prices/inflation-adjusted-natural-gas-prices/

          • Thanks David, I always appreciate your wealth of knowledge and experience and how you can put together and explain things to non-experts like me who are more comfortable with megabytes and megatons than million-barrels-oil-equivalent. Would that be a mega-boe?

          • MBOE or mBOE = 1,000 barrels oil equivalent
            MMBOE or mmBOE = 1,000,000 barrels oil equivalent

            6 billion cubic feet (Bcf) natural gas ~ 1 mmBOE

            🍻

          • The analysis here misses a larger economic point. The only reason to buy rooftop solar and battery backup is because we are moving towards a third world future where power outages become a normal part of life as a result of dependence on unreliable wind and solar. Rooftop solar gives some protection from power outages.

            Assuming you have $30,000 to invest, the rate of return on rooftop solar is low compared to buying an S&P index fund with the same 20 year time horizon.

            Government policy is siphoning off higher rate of return investment opportunities for capital in order to avoid having to sit in the dark while your S&P investment provides a higher rate of return. Wealth is created and living standards improved when scarce capital is deployed at its highest rate of return.

            Solar and Wind power has a negative rate of return because solar and wind power is more expensive and is a lower quality product. The capital spent on solar and wind, whether by individuals, businesses, utilities, or governments is misdirected and ensures that we will all be poorer in the future.

    • The loss of the 475MW created no problems. Such drop outs have been happening since they first set up an electric grid.

      There is no need to spend billions of dollars on batteries to solve a problem that never existed before politicians started to demand that wind and solar make up a major portion of the grid.

      • The loss of the 475MW created no problems. Such drop outs have been happening since they first set up an electric grid.

        And yet the loss of 400MW later in the day caused problems. Our entire State went blackout a few decades ago when a single failure cascaded to all the generators. That’s protected against now. I dont think you realise just how complicated and costly it is to manage demand and especially peak demand on a grid.

    • Tim, maybe somewhere your scenario is valid that battery storage is only required for minutes, not hours. But your scenario requires a large redundant spinning reserve of gas generation. That is cheaper than hours-long battery storage. But keep in mind that Germany has demonstrated that at about 50% wind and solar penetration the “spinning reserve” needs to be huge. Any additional solar and wind only enables a 5% fuel savings. The only workable solution for intermittent unreliable electricity is an end to worth less than nothing wind and solar. An excellent worldwide covid-19 stimulus package would be funding a massive dismantling and landfilling of the junk power (IMHO).

      • Dennis writes “Tim, maybe somewhere your scenario is valid that battery storage is only required for minutes, not hours. But your scenario requires a large redundant spinning reserve of gas generation. ”

        But we already have our grids backed by “large redundant spinning reserve of gas generation” or similar. What I’m suggesting is that the more battery we add to the grid, the more stable it becomes. And at some point those batteries can stand in for “large redundant spinning reserve of gas generation” and the baseload generation needs only cater for the day’s energy, not the next five minute requirement.

        In that scenario, unreliable renewable sources like solar and wind become properly viable.

        • Tim,

          “But we already have our grids backed by “large redundant spinning reserve of gas generation” or similar.”

          That “large redundant spinning reserve of gas generation” gets less and less every year – see CA as an example.

          Thus it doesn’t become an issue of “stability” over the short term which can be handled by more batteries. It becomes and issue of “stability” over the long term. Batteries, at least at the development level of today simply can’t provide long term staability.

          That means that decommissioning any kind of fossil fuel generator is only driving long term stability *down*. And that is CA just saw.

          • “That means that decommissioning any kind of fossil fuel generator is only driving long term stability *down*. And that is CA just saw.”

            Agree. But bigger pic, it appears that the main miscalc was counting on extra energy from out of state. The heat wave was unusually regional, so it wasn’t available. As AGW continues, Cal will need more energy for temp extremes, period. Since they have finally wised up to the lack of long term storage for spent nuc fuel, and to their seismic shape, they won’t be going down that road any more. And since they don’t have either enough wet or dry gas productivity left (you can’t economically frac in the Sac Valley)- and never will – they must rely on – what? All I can see is more renewables, supplemented with out of state electrons, and imported gas, stored in storage fields that are now antique time bombs (but that Gavin has started to improve), distributed in a generations old pipeline/compressor infrastructure, and burned in new/recommissioned peaker plants. Cubic $ worth of investment required, which will bring home the point that Cal is simply a great, expensive, place to live. Even before paying the folks who do the work enough to slowly get ahead, which they don’t do now.

            Gavin needs to complete and publish his “investigation”, pronto….

        • Tim,battery storage is hopelessly expensive. See my postings elsewhere at least 3 times more than solar gen erated electricity. $0.03/kw.hr solar plus $ 0.09/kw.hr for the 4pm to 8 pm peak load costs $0.36/kw for those 4 hours. If the peak demand happens again a second day the battery may not be recharged. Utility scale solar is worth less than nothing junk.

        • Tim, don’t add more batteries, stop adding solar. Keep in mind that battery storage is 3X the cost of solar generation.
          You say, we already have our grids backed by “large redundant spinning reserve of gas generation” or similar.
          So why are you wanting to spend $billions on batteries? I’ve read your postings. What am I missing?

  33. there is no evidence that solar actually failed at all

    Exactly. Basic astronomy. The sun shines all the time. Even after dark. On the other side of the globe. Why wasn’t California’s grid tied into Iran’s solar power plants, 12 time zones away, to keep the electricity flowing?

    • Why not build a satellite system that reflects sunlight
      from the other side of the globe to your preferred solar panel farm.

  34. As I understand it the previous 2006 power demand record was beaten by about 300 MW and a 400 MW plant was offline… also power supplies from out of state weren’t available due to the regional nature of the heatwave and hydro plant water levels were low.

    so what you are saying is that the grid can’t cope with a new record high with a general shortage of power resource… that it can’t cope with new record heat levels… renewables aren’t the main cause of this issue.

    should California have prepared for a new record level of heat and power demand? Perhaps – because climate change clearly signalled it was coming. and will be back again.

    • Griff says “should California have prepared for a new record level of heat and power demand? Perhaps – because climate change clearly signalled it was coming. and will be back again.”

      This is unfortunately a common view held by alarmists that every hot day is as hot as it is because climate change. Bollocks. Climate is an average of weather over timescales humans cant even grasp in terms of experience. Saying a particular hot day was because climate change is as crazy as people claiming they can “feel the climate change”

      At least the first part of the statement makes sense. Every region plans for its peak demand based on history and when the previous maximum demand is beaten, then there’s always a chance of outages. But I’m going to suggest that’s more to do with increasing standard of living and increased populations than “climate change”.

      • And increased urban heat island! Where do you think all that “power usage” ends up? It all is converted to heat and expelled into the air. So the more you need electricity to provide AC, the more you are “turning up the heat” in your own community. The generation, transportation, and usage of electricity are all heat producing actions, that are minimal on a per capita basis. But it is not trivial for millions of customers, using round the clock AC. You are turning up the heat on yourselves and saying it is “climate change”.
        And southern CA was marginally “uninhabitable” before AC. People that could leave would go up into the mountains, or spend their days alternating between the ocean and the shade, to escape the oppressive heat. Same with Phoenix, Palm Springs, and most of the SW desert areas.
        This is not a modern problem. It is a problem that is manageable with AC. So treat like it is a necessity for living in the area. Because it is.
        It is equivalent to heat in the winter for most of the northern half of the US. It will get below 0*F at some point and you better be prepared for life-threatening conditions. And if any politician is making stupid decisions about that, they have to go. SC seems incapable of coming to terms with the reality of where they live. Get a clue – IT IS A DESERT!!!

    • What you should note is that the green theory that there would always be spare power via an intertie was wrong. Bad modelling of weather systems.

      It doesn’t matter how many greenie points you have. If theory doesn’t match experiment it’s wrong.

    • Griffter,
      RE: “As I understand it….”
      Your subsequent deceits and strawman arguments all fail because you don’t understand it. GIGO! Like an ensemble of uncalibrated and uncertifiable climate models, your ‘outputs’ are all over the fictional map and nowhere near reality. Your comments are analogous to solar and wind energy output: Intermittent and Unreliable.

    • Had the state not been shutting down gas and nuclear power plants in the 14 years since 2006, the heat wave and the drop out of 400MW would nave been nothing.

    • Griff, The immediate and imminent need for reliable baseload capacity in California is right now, it has nothing to do with climate change. The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is scheduled to shut down in 2025. Last weeks power failures demonstrate that decision can not stand! I live here, it matters to me, this isn’t a hypothetical.

      Yes, climate change has always happened and always will and as you say,”will be back again”. Nothing in the climate has changed enough in the past 100 years to fundamentally change temperatures in California. Maybe one (1) deg. centigrade from a combination of natural variability and anthropogenic warming. Likewise, it appears that warming will continue at the same or a slightly greater rate for the next 100 years. Surely, well before then we will have perfected, and globally deployed massive nuclear power systems and essentially eliminated the “fossil fuel” component of warming. A doubling of CO2 in that time-frame and under that scenario should be acceptable to the majority of voters.

  35. Just looked at Wikipedia on CaliforniA’s. 2000 electricity crisis and blackouts caused by price manipulation and incompetent government control.

  36. “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. ”
    R. Feynman

  37. You are talking bollocks griff .
    You say you understand ,that is an overstatement .I dont think you really comprehend very much.
    California is a state with a large population close to 40 million and it should not rely on electricity from out of state because they have gone down the renewable path and this power outage proves that this is unsustainable.
    They have been warned that this would happen but they ignored this advice .
    You reap what you sow and if your forward planning and your back up power generators are well below par this is the result.
    A major stuff up and it wont be the last .
    You griff and the politicians in California can blame heat waves and global warming but what about the increase in the population of close to 6 million people since the year 2000.

  38. This is your electric grid on coal, gas, and nuclear: 0101010101010101…
    This is your electric grid on unaffordable unreliables: 0101010-`^$#@#@$^)__(*)(*&%$#!!
    Any questions?
    Just say no to unaffordable unreliables.

  39. It was actually gas that failed,” said Shana Lazerow, a staff attorney at environmental justice nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment. “We should be talking about how gas is unreliable.”

    I guess that’s an accurate statement. Solar electricity is reliably off every night when the sun doesn’t shine (including, of course, when it is undergoing maintenance, too, but I digress). Somehow, this reliability doesn’t comfort those with no electricity.

  40. A point that dropped off the radar in this discussion of “natural” gas plants is what kind of plants are they? Are they gas fired steam plants or gas fired gas turbine plants. The ramp up time for those type of plant is very different, steam plants can take hours to ramp up but turbine plants can get up to load very quickly. So, what does the mix look like?

  41. Why would anyone listen to a children’s show character? Might as well take your climate advice from Sponge Bob, at least that show creator likes people.

  42. Personally I am grateful that California is paving the way for renewables. They will either work it out, or not. As long as they don’t come back to me and expect me to pick up the tab for their failures I am good with it. Who knows, perhaps there is a path to reliable use of renewables. I am dubious and don’t want to participate in an experiment where you get 3rd world quality power reliability at a grossly excessive cost. But go ahead, knock yourselves out.

    On the other hand they are so deep in denial on causes that they seem to find a way to blame every one of their self inflicted failures on someone else’s bad decision. It’s sure to be a slow and painful learning process to watch.

  43. Someone’s in denial again. Renewable energy is bad for your health.

    Prior to the “climate crisis” an electricity grid had about 10% dispatchable power held in reserve to handle any sudden losses in supply. But mitigation of fake man-made climate change caused a crisis in supply which took the reserve away. “Climate crisis” = self-fulfilling prophecy.

  44. Let’s not even discuss the wind industry’s impact upon the avian populations. particularly raptors. CA/USFS allow two condors each year to be slaughtered, and an increasing number of eagles, hawks, owls, falcons and vultures to die inexorably and painfully at the wings of these monsters’

    • California definitely had a reliable power glut just a few years ago. Now they have an unreliable power glut and a reliable power deficiency.

      A stable grid requires excess resources (AKA a glut).

      • Dave- just an aside-many years ago the UK Sunday Telegraph had a brilliant columnist(I think he later became editor) called Patrick Hutber.He specialised in shooting unicorns and disposing of their poo.He invented Hutber’s Law which states “Improvement means deterioration.” ie Whenever anyone in authority tells you ” In order to improve( Name Service) we are now going to (Name Change to be applied). The Change ALWAYS results in a deterioration of the service.Always.In the spirit of transatlantic friendship I award you the power to use Middleton’s Law as the USA version of Hutber’s Law!

    • Are they closing because the power isn’t needed, or are they closing because the regulations make it impossible to keep them running?

      That is the question you haven’t answered.

      • It’s actually a lot more complicated than most people realize. Back in the 2000’s California encouraged the build out of natural gas-fired generation capacity. Many independent operators fell for the bait. One was Calpine, at the time California’s top geothermal generator. They built several large gas-fired plants. PG&E had a guaranteed deal as the state utility company to recover costs plus a profit on everything they did. They jumped into building natural gas-fired plants and pretty well put all the competition out of business and California had excess gas generation, right when they went bat schist crazy funding solar power plants. California’s grotesque incompetence isn’t limited to green schist.

  45. I live in the Sierra Nevada foothills and I have solar panels on my house. There is so much smoke here from the fires in the Bay Area that that the solar panels are producing 1/3 less energy than normal.

  46. “On Friday and Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Californians had their power cut for a spurt in the evening.”</blockquote)

    A very odd use of the word spurt. Rather indicating the limited education/knowledge and arrogant ignorance of the author.

    Merriam-Webster

    “spurt verb (1)
    \ ˈspərt \
    spurted; spurting; spurts

    Definition of spurt (Entry 1 of 4)
    intransitive verb
    : to gush forth : SPOUT
    transitive verb
    : to expel in a stream or jet : SQUIRT

    spurt noun (1)
    Definition of spurt (Entry 2 of 4)
    : a sudden gush : JET
    spurt noun (2)

    Definition of spurt (Entry 3 of 4)
    1: a short period of time : MOMENT
    2a: a sudden brief burst of effort, activity, or development
    a spurt of work
    a growth spurt
    b: a sharp or sudden increase in business activity”

    The word spurt’s basic meaning a) indicates a sudden increase, even when describing a moment, the word means a burst of something. having their power cut is not a “spurt”.

  47. Griff, The immediate and imminent need for reliable baseload capacity in California is right now, it has nothing to do with climate change. The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is scheduled to shut down in 2025. Last weeks power failures demonstrate that decision can not stand! I live here, it matters to me, this isn’t a hypothetical.

    Yes, climate change has always happened and always will and as you say,”will be back again”. Nothing in the climate has changed enough in the past 100 years to fundamentally change temperatures in California. Maybe one (1) deg. centigrade from a combination of natural variability and anthropogenic warming. Likewise, it appears that warming will continue at the same or a slightly greater rate for the next 100 years. Surely, well before then we will have perfected, and globally deployed massive nuclear power systems and essentially eliminated the “fossil fuel” component of warming. A doubling of CO2 in that time-frame and under that scenario should be acceptable to the majority of voters.

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