Smoking Out the Golden State’s Green Utopia

Reposted from The Pipeline

Clarice Feldman • 28 Aug, 2020 • 4 Min ReadSan Onofre nuclear plant: lights out in California.

Into the grandest of fantasies, reality intrudes. And so, it may be that Mother Nature in the form of annual forest fires, will force a key California agency to face reality and modify the overly ambitious and unrealistic renewable energy  fantasy that has characterized the state’s energy planning for  a decade.

On Sept. 1, the California State Water Board will have to decide whether the four natural gas plants that provide desperately needed power in energy-short California must be shuttered or whether to grant them an extension in the midst of devastating state electricity blackouts by amending the policy use of on coastal waters for power plant cooling. .

There are four natural gas plants along California’s coast, in areas much desirable to developers: Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Oxnard and Redondo Beach. Because they rely on seawater cooling they are deemed environmentally unsound. The Clean Water Act requires the location, design and construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact, but there are no applicable nationwide standards implementing this section for existing power plants.

That task in California fell to the California Water Board. It determined that these four plants had not been able to comply with the Board ruling in 2010 that they had to create power without use of seawater cooling, and they were unable to do so. The companies involved begged for extensions citing the drastic shortfall if they were decommissioned. All four were slated to close  early this decade. The largest, in Redondo Beach was to close in 2023 and has asked for an additional year. The other three plants have asked for three-year extensions. (In February of this year, the state began dismantling of the its sole nuclear power plant, San Onofre.)

https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://www.ourenergypolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/California-Renewable-Energy-Information.pdf&hl=en

Up to now their efforts for further extensions seemed unlikely to succeed, but policy makers considered the impossibility of compliance in a time of no great consequence. California planned to have 60 percent of all its power needs produced by “green” sources by 2030  and 100 percent by 2045. Unfortunately this best laid plans were hindered by the inability to increase battery capacity to store solar power overnight when the sun doesn’t shine, or wind power when the wind doesn’t blow.

Oh, and then there’s the perfectly predictable problem than when it gets hot  in California people need air conditioning, and when it gets dry in California there are massive forest fires which block the sunlight. This summer those perfectly predictable events occurred and the state is now suffering rolling blackouts — certainly uncomfortable, if not dangerous, for many people and disruptive to industries already in trouble because of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s one-party state  lockdowns and other environmental, tax, transportation, housing, immigration ,law enforcement,  employment, and assorted budgetary idiocies.

Newsom or Noisome?

So next Tuesday, the Control Board is faced with a dilemma: should they amend their regulations to permit the Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Oxnard plant to stay open for another three years and the Redondo plant for another additional year? Naturally, environmentalists are opposing the extensions.

City leaders where the plants are located also are opposing the extensions; Redondo Beach, for example, has already made plans for the site with a mixed-use developer and the mayor, Bill Brand has, according to reporters covering the story, staked “his legacy on getting the plant removed,” which may be delayed. Other plant owners have sweetened the pot with expensive concessions to sway local politicians. Also fighting any extension are citizens living near the plants because if the plants go and are replaced  with more desirable structures their property values will increase.

So the board is facing a lot of pressure to sacrifice electric reliability—in fact, cause even more disruption to the already failing electrical power supply, or satisfy the environmentalists, citizens and political interests in shutting down the plants on schedule. As their proposed final amendment states “the compliance dates in this Policy may require amendment based on, among other things, the need to maintain reliability of the electrical system.”

This may sound technical, and you may think that Californians deserve to sit in the dark for electing such bad policymakers, but perhaps the plaint of its citizens so well-documented by Victor Davis Hanson might make clear the human suffering caused by such ill-conceived proscriptions by the neo-feudalist democrats who run the state.

 We can expect power outages, because we don’t believe in releasing clean heat to make energy. Note that we do not mind people heating up in their 108-degree apartments without power. The planet is always more important than the non-privileged people who inhabit it.

For some reason, solar panels don’t create much power when the state is engulfed in dust, haze, and smoke.

Note the synergism of the California postmodern apocalypse: The hotter it gets, the more fires burn on ecological fuel and hillside natural “compost,” the smokier the air becomes, the less efficiently California’s solar pathway to the future generates, the more power outages ensue, the more real people are put in danger from either being incinerated by fire or suffocated by smoke or boiled inside without air conditioning.

Last week, I asked an elderly patient at the allergy clinic whether, in the 108-degree heat, he preferred to stay outside to breathe smoke and haze, or stay inside his uncooled apartment. He gave a novel answer: He didn’t care about the power outages since he couldn’t pay the exorbitant electricity charges anyway to turn on his air conditioner. And he added that, in California these days, you can’t tell whether mask wearers are fighting the virus, the smoke, or the police.

Davis says Newsom is worried about the state’s “Frankensteinian Green New Deal,” which the Governor earlier helped create: “We cannot sacrifice reliability as we move on,’” Newsom said.

Davis translates this as something like “we built so many subsidized solar and wind farms, and retired or canceled so many clean-burning natural-gas power plants, that we don’t have enough electricity for 40 million sweltering residents when the annual green napalm hits, who would have figured?”

So, how will the Board vote on Tuesday? Before the electric grid failed, probably they’d have denied the extension, but now their hand may be forced into being pragmatic and approving them. It doesn’t hurt that the governor has signaled his concern about even more electrical power disruptions.

Clarice Feldman is a retired attorney living in Washington, D.C. During her legal career she represented the late labor leader Joseph (“Jock”) Yablonski and the reform mine workers against Tony Boyle. She served as an attorney with the Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations, in which role she prosecuted those who aided the Nazis in World War II. She has written for The Weekly Standard and is a regular contributor to American Thinker.

64 thoughts on “Smoking Out the Golden State’s Green Utopia

    • “What makes it a fantasy is that it is based on technology still in R&D and not ready for the market, not even for a trial installation. ”

      This is true for Ontario too.

      Exactly how did this happen?

      • “Sommer August 29, 2020 at 5:00 am

        This is true for Ontario too.
        Exactly how did this happen?

        I think it is a case of anti fossil fuel activism by self appointed good guys from a point of view of the pure goodness of environmentalism and god on their side.

        Or something like that.

      • Wall Street is cashing big time on RE, and Senator Grassly and co made it happen the Wall Street tax-shelter way.

        Madison Ave admen were enlisted to sugarcoat reality, and off to the races it went.
        The US is the Saudi Arabia of Wind, said Madison Ave.

        You just can’t make this up.

        I can’t believe the Germans were as stupid as well,

    • This reminds of something Obummer said. He said, “We increased the gas mileage for cars.” He did no such thing. He got his administration to increase the CAFE standards and then sat back while engineers increased the gas mileage. This is similar, mandating something and then expecting it to happen, whether it is practical or not. Maybe we should pass a law making PI = 3.14 .

  1. “in California these days, you can’t tell whether mask wearers are fighting the virus, the smoke, or the police.”

    The following quote is attributed by Tacitus, in his history of the Roman invasion of Britain, to Calgacus, a chieftain of the Caledonian Confederacy who fought the Roman army of Gnaeus Julius Agricola at the Battle of Mons Graupius in northern Scotland in AD 83 or 84.

    “they make a desert and call it peace”

    This is what the left always do, they seek to control us at all costs including at the cost of total destruction.

  2. Ha, ha, ha, ha! So citizens in SoCal want to raise property values by tearing down power plants and developing the sites with high end housing. The developers may have to provide every new home with on demand diesel gensets; who wants to move into a big expensive home that occasionally has electricity!
    I would think the states of Utah, Nevada, Oregon and Colorado should be looking into building massive power plants for providing the idiots in Commiefornia with exorbitantly priced electricity. They might be able provide their own populations with very inexpensive power by charging the LaLaLanders an arm and a leg.
    Sweet! Just call it a stupid tax for “Green” morons!

    • I’ve had the same thought about California importing electricity. Mexico is missing a bet here.

      Mexico ought to build enormous nuclear power plants along their side of the border and export the electricity to southern California. The cost of unregulated electricity from nuclear power is about four to seven cents a kilowatt hour. If Mexico sold the electricity to California at double or triple that price they’d make a lot of money.

      As far as regulations and safety go, Mexico could have an imaginary regulatory set-up and just pretend to meet safety standards. They could have strict standards in theory but simply pay off everyone to ignore the standards. And since it is politically incorrect to criticize Mexico the good people of California would never complain about the Mexican drug cartels running nuclear power plants on their border. That would be so racist.

      Man would it be funny to have the Mexican drug cartels running unregulated nuclear power plants along the border and selling the electricity to the hypocrite greenies in California so that the greenies could keep their air conditioners running. Just imagine when the Mexican plants pop and the fall-out drifts over tinsel town.

      • Marty,
        ..”Mexico ought to build enormous nuclear power plants along their side of the border and export the electricity to southern California.”
        I think that’s pretty much what the Germans did when they de-nuked. They wound up buying French power (80% nuke) just across the Rhine, much safer!
        Cheers
        Mike

  3. “…their hand may be forced into being pragmatic…” Nah! Virtue signaling spirals all the way down to low information voters in Kalifornia. The people moving out of Kalifornia (and infesting their neighboring states) are at least marginally rational. Wait for Monday, they’ll go full stupid.

    • It’s Hope and Change all the way down now. Hope because if you think positive thoughts nothing bad will come of any dreamy Change which must only be beneficial even if done just for its own sake to pursue a novelty that lends life some absent meaning and most certainly when done to signal personal virtue that is otherwise notably lacking.

      Rather similarly, Burning, Looting, & Murder shows how much you share with other low-lifes who utterly ignore the huge simultaneous toll in black lives that don’t matter to their fellow black executioners.

  4. If they extend the permits another year, so what then? Are there any replacement NG facilities in the pipeline? You can’t build these overnight. Smaller peaking plants can be built but they really aren’t a solution for huge populations.

    Looking forward to the results of the meeting here on WUWT. I’d give it a 70%-30% in favor of shutting them down. You can’t fix stupid.

      • Philip,
        Calizuela seems hellbent on proving Einstein correct regarding the infinitude of human ignorance! Apparently all the smart people have already moved on to greener pastures.

    • The question is whether the gang that can’t shoot straight, having shot themselves in one foot, through repeated attempts will be able to hit the other foot????
      My bet is if they miss it this time they will keep trying until they hit it.

  5. Don’t worry, the decision is baked into the Green brain physiology, they will extend two and close one. That way everyone is disappointed.
    That is Green politics in the raw, they aim to harm everyone at all times.

  6. It’s not renewable energy, it’s UNRELIABLE energy. Start calling it what it is and perhaps people will start to wake up!

  7. The ignorant leading the incompetent, what could possibly go wrong? How many people could they possibly kill?

  8. As we have smart meters now (in name anyway) will the powers that be in the state ensure that folks getting blacked out due to a lack of supply don’t get hit in the wallet on top of sweltering in 100F temperatures without running water?

    The Enron like day ahead market and the energy imbalance market prices shouldn’t be allocated to the folks blacked out so that Stanford could use more grid power than their average model predicted.

  9. California has a huge dual problem.
    They have wildfires destroying the state and they have a power shortage.
    The answer to both problems is simple, cheap and elegant.

    Simply put, they build a few large-scale Biomass powered plants.
    Then they clear-cut every forest in the state to fuel the power plants. Plenty of power, no more wildfires.

    For The Environment.

    • Way too logical for this group. If it makes sense it must be rejected immediately. It exposes how badly the state has been run, and how the lapdog media has covered up every bad decision with the fawning praise of a propaganda distribution network.
      Equal blame goes to the corrupt government and the corrupt media. Things will not change until those problems are resolved. Corrupt institutions remain corrupt until implosion. And Kleptofornia is rich in resources that will keep this leaking Hindenburg aloft. For now.

  10. `You’d think these “energy experts” would realize that renewable energy cannot replace reliable power
    and there are days when the sun doesn’t shine or very much, and those batteries can’t even remotely handle the loss of power. And batteries can only store energy – they cannot generate electricity. Where is the power to recharge them when they are depleted? Greenies don’t believein technology except that they think building a taller wind turbine eliminates its deficiencies – it remains a 16th century technology. The solution to all of California’s problems are practicaly staring them in the face : small modular molten salt nuclear reactors, cheaper than just about every other power technolog (4 cents per kWhr,, levelized cost) , infinitely safe, able to load follow, eliminating most needs for peak power generation capacity, air cooled – no need for water cooling,
    buildable in factories and insalled quickly and practically anywhere. Of course, Greenies don’t want to wait another minute, despite them talking abour a transition requiring decades if using reneables. Californians and their leaders simply do not understand the problem or its solution.
    They are country dumb bumpkins.

    • I see you choose to continue with your lies ColMosby.

      I say lies because you continue to lie by omission, failing to make clear that there is not a single modular molten salt reactor in commercial operation, and unlikely to be one for at least a decade. Given that fact, making claims about cost is also a blatant lie. You are talking about projections and possibly very optimistic estimates, but you package it as if it were the measured result of actual operations.

      Shame on you! Every single time you post I will be clarifying your lies.

    • ColMosby,
      Trying to argue facts and logic with religious fanatics is more of an exercise in futility than wrestling with a pig! At least the pig enjoys itself!
      Adherents of the High Church of Climastrology don’t believe in human enjoyment or ingenuity; all is “Doom, doom, doom!”

      • Abolition Man,
        Don’t be a moron. I am totally opposed to climastrology, as anyone who ever read anything I’ve ever posted here would know.

        My view is that we shouldn’t waste any money on “solving global warming” because the warming we have is mostly if not completely natural, and also totally beneficial.

        I’m also supportive of nuclear power including MSRs, but so long as natural gas is a lower cost, immediately available, Made-in-the-USA solution, that’s what we should be doing. Eventually, maybe in the 2040s, ColMosby’s fever dreams will be realized and win in the free market. If so, I’ll celebrate it!

    • Col,
      Please let us know when we get to 10, 100, 1000.
      10 grid & functioning;
      100 under construction; and
      1,000 permitted, financed, located.
      Thanks.

  11. “In February of this year, the state began dismantling of the its sole nuclear power plant, San Onofre.”

    This is incorrect. Diablo Canyon continues to operate but is scheduled to be shut down shortly.

  12. Another aspect of a hot, dry CA is that there isn’t a lot of excess water. Aren’t they still under restricted water use edicts? If your daily decision is between a shower, washing clothes, or cleaning your solar panels so the AC runs, which do you pick?

    • They don’t use cooling towers, it’s a once-through system. Cold seawater pumped in, warm seawater discharged back to the ocean.

      This changes the natural environment (gaia forbid!)

  13. Why don’t these reliable plants go on strike , as it were, by intermittently threatening to go offline when they see an inconvenient situation arriving on the grid network. After all they have nothing to lose as they are going to be shut down anyway.
    They have a powerful argument to make at any negotiating table. (a pun here?).

    The reliable energy sector really needs to get its act together and start using similar practices to that of the green dictatorial movement.

    There is irony in this; as if say a plant does go offline it is only following government policy; it being merely a matter of timing.

    • I don’t think they will. Two reasons:
      – They are proud of their jobs and they know who suffers most from blackouts.
      – They don’t have a ‘Get out of jail free’ card, like activists seem to have.

  14. The Mandalay Generating Station (Oxnard) draws its cooling water through a canal from the Channel Islands harbor. If it closes the harbor waters will stagnate.

    Welcome to California the state that can’t shoot straight. Wait. guns are all but illegal here too.

    • Hollywood is allowed to have guns (machine guns even!).
      I wonder if any of these “rolling blackouts” have effected any Hollywood productions(or stars)?

    • Problem solved my Aunt Fanny. The article you kinked to recites how many “GW” is being built, nor “GW hours.” Can it supply that for 2 hours, 4 or even 8? Most of these batteries seem to be rated for 4 hours. what happens after that? How about days of low sun and wind? And 1 GW? The peak load for CAL ISO is 50 GW. I laugh at your puny 1 GW!

      • 1 GW means 1 GW-hr of electricity as that’s how power is measured. Yes it could last for 3 to 4 hrs but it wouldn’t be discharging 1 GW, more like 250 MW for 4 hrs. FYI, LA Country uses on average 187 GW-hrs of electricity PER DAY. So this project would provide power for LA Country for less than 8 minutes.

    • “Problem solved”….. this should be good. I wonder who got the contract, where it/they will be placed, how much it will cost, and the intended life span.

  15. “but perhaps the plaint of its citizens”

    You mean the citizens that kkep voting in the same politicians/party?

    Sorry, I don’t feel sorry for them.

    In fact I would like to see the 4 plants shutdown today to force the State government to see reality and admit to their citizens the truth about powering California with Unicorn farts.

    Tell the eco-wackos where they can shove their idiocracy.

  16. My brother is a luny green. His attitude to blackouts of a few hours duration is ‘This is the price we pay to get rid of focil fuels’. He boasts about how he is ready for them, and feels like a hero who has made the ‘ultimate sacrifice. After all, virtue should hurt (just not too much).

    With this attitude from the financially secure greens, the system has to crash bad enough for them to be hurt bad in the pocket book – a few hours of not being able to charge your car is irrelevant, because you have an ICE or a hybrid as a backup. His degree is in Engineering, but he still believes in windmills and organic food.

  17. The Huntington beach plant demolition has been extended for at least two years. Someone(s) is actually thinking this through. The delay is to make sure we don’t need the extra power and was made before the recent blackout. California has a habit of over virtue signaling it’s renewable energy capabilities. Often it sites nameplate values for its’ wind and solar and rarely mentions the out of state energy that comes from coal sources.

  18. Plans for ‘development’ of the sites already approved. I’ll hazard a guess that at least some of the decision makers have an interest in them.

    But why not go ahead, let them close the lot. Then come next year’s blackouts the public may finally wake up.

    • It used to be “Let the b***ards freeze in the dark”.
      Now it’s “Let the idiots bake in the sunshine.”

  19. Ed bring it forward a year or two one at a time the money made on the wholesale power market will be stupendous.

  20. Why wait until you are forced to shut down? Now is the time to incrementally dial back the energy produced by these plants. Dial back your production right at the time it is needed most, maybe you can get the attention of those bone heads.

    • Bob:
      LOL … As much fun as it would be to finally get their attention, doing what you suggest would be right out
      of Enron’s playbook. The fossil fuel industry does not need to resort to that extreme. Between mother nature [wildfires & weather] and their incompetent leaders Cailfornia will “reap what it has sown” soon enough.
      But here’s my question: Considering California’s mostly mild climate, how many months out of the year
      does their grid [unreliables + out-of-state energy sources] mostly keep up with demand? Is it only during the summer fire season that there is a mismatch?

      • Kalifornia will ” reap what it has sown” soon enough.

        It cannot come soon enough for Australia. We have south australia (a mini – me) kalifornia, and really really need an object lesson to hopefully wake the voters up. Their grid is dangerously unstable
        due to unreliable energy so they now want an interconnector so they can mess with the grid in other states.

  21. The great Kalipornia Fail may be at hand, or maybe not. If they kick the can down the road a bit they might get a few good years to feel comfortable enough to off all of the power plants and then they will have screwed themselves irrevocably. What an awesome calamity that will be. I just wish a good portion of my family did not live there and have to endure this debacle.

  22. Even if we vote the idiot politicians out (not going to happen in CA, too many koolaid drinkers), the regulators will still be driving this stuff. I attended a CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) discussion last week about the Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS, when the utility turns off power in an area due to weather conditions that increase wildfire risks). The utility companies can reduce the impact of these outages by using large emergency generators at substations, easily accomplished by diesel generators, the newest ones being very clean, actually near zero emissions, but the CPUC wants the utilities to pay 2-5 times more for solutions that require 2-100+ more land and still are not as reliable as diesel or diesel alternative fuels being used in essentially the same engines. There was even one commenter, not from the CPUC, who claimed that the only people advocating for diesel had a financial interest, an easy claim to make in a forum when the folks who would dispute that cannot speak.
    The CPUC folks truly believe, and their belief is being driven by companies who know the CPUC doesn’t give a damn about the cost, so these companies can sell their extremely expensive solutions to the utility companies, who are forced into this by the CPUC. Then everyone wonders why either their utility rates go up, or maintenance on the system is not done (increasing the risk of accidents/fires).
    Many other states and even utility companies are heading down this same path, get informed now or it will be too late, may be already for some.

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