California Bows to Energy Reality

Reposted from The

Clarice Feldman • 03 Sep, 2020 

Last week I described the dilemma facing the California State Water Resources Control Board. It could demand adherence to the schedule for closing coastal gas plants which use sea water by the end of this year. If they did so, they would compound California’s energy crisis; if not, the board would have to face the fact that renewable energy was insufficient for the State’s needs and acknowledge that it needed these fossil fuel plants to continue operating or the state would face further blackouts.

Today it acknowledged reality, as the Los Angles Times reports. The board allowed the plants to remain in operation for a few more years until —  they hope — chimerical renewable energy can pick up the load:

State officials threw a lifeline to four fossil fueled power plants along the Southern California coast, deciding the facilities are still needed to provide reliable electricity even as they contribute to the climate crisis.

Tuesday’s vote by the State Water Resources Control Board to let the gas plants keep operating past the end of this year followed brief rolling blackouts over two evenings last month, as a heat wave caused air conditioning demand to soar, and California found itself short on electricity supplies.

Energy regulators are still investigating the causes of the power shortage. But they said allowing the coastal gas plants to stay open a few more years would help prevent more outages as California continues its transition to cleaner energy sources — an ironic solution given that climate change almost certainly exacerbated the recent heat wave.

Maybe it won’t ever get hot again in California. Maybe there never will be smoke and smog blocking sunlight. Maybe storage capacity will be vastly increased. Maybe the gas plants will find an efficient , affordable way to discharge seawater without substantially affecting marine life. Maybe not.

Of course the notion that the warm sea water discharge from the plants seriously harms marine life may also be open to some  debate.I remember environmentalists claiming the caribou would die off if the Alaskan pipeline was built, but it turns out the caribou love it:

Thirty years later we can see the effects of the pipeline on the caribous. Walter Hickel, a former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and governor of Alaska, said the caribou has not only survived, but flourished. In 1977, as the Prudhoe region started delivering oil to America’s southern 48 states, the Central Arctic caribou numbered 6,000:it has since grown to 27, 128.

It’s hyperbolical predictions like this, that make me chary of the environmentalists claims, which always exaggerate the risks of real energy production while they ignore the risks related to “renewables,”such as the risk to birds from large solar arrays in the dessert and from windmills and the danger now of disposal solar panels and windmills that are now out of commission or soon will be.

Let me know when they march on the auto companies to highlight the environmental risks in the creation and disposal of electric car batteries.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.

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Tim Gorman
September 4, 2020 6:18 pm

Solar plants and Wind turbines are *NOT* renewables. They are UNRELIABLE’S.

Sun and wind may be renewable but solar cells and wind turbines are most emphatically not. At most they are “replaceables”. If a solar cell is renewable then so is the automobile, fossil fuel generator plants, and wood stoves!

We *must* begin to change this terminology if we are to educate the uninformed citizenry of the truth about solar and wind power. They are unreliable in the extreme.

Thomas Burk
Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 4, 2020 8:43 pm

Tim’s comment is spot on. I now know how to respond to the endlessly-repeated idiocy of the parroting greens who are always referring to solar plants and wind turbines as “renewable.” They have to be called out. Tim’s comment is especially powerful, precisely because it is so simple and common-sensible. Don’t let them control the terminology.

Doc Chuck
Reply to  Thomas Burk
September 5, 2020 12:00 am

Just ask those dreamers what portion of the coked-coal purified steel for the towers and the petroleum-sourced resins for the whirling fiber composite blades; or else the ultra-pure silicon ingots grown in superheated ovens to be sliced into photovoltaic wafers, along with the remotely mined bauxite refined to aluminum for framing/supporting the necessary solar apparatus strikes them as ‘renewable’ without bountiful fossil fuel use either when first erected or when replaced after wearing out? In fact if it’s really so very cheap and easy-breezy, surely they should be able to picture how they and a few handy friends could knock it all together from such accessible renewable sources themselves in no time.

No? Oh, that’s different. Never mind.

Reply to  Doc Chuck
September 5, 2020 1:05 am

That’s ALWAYS ‘different’. These people are mentally ill.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
September 5, 2020 5:59 am

Have you seen this ridiculous form of protest that took place at a gas station?

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
September 5, 2020 7:40 am

Sommer, that is priceless. I have a friend who has been blocked on fakebook because he posted the truth about the Kenosha, WI riots, so they “dismissed” him. Now he’s frustrated.

I will pass this on to him. Thanks for that!!!

Reply to  Doc Chuck
September 5, 2020 4:31 am

That has to be the best summation of the situation I’ve ever read. I’m going to use it a lot.


Barnes Moore
Reply to  Doc Chuck
September 5, 2020 5:12 am

Correct – unreliables are 100% dependent on fossil fuels from cradle to grave for the mining of raw materials, transport of said materials to/from manufacturing facilities, the manufacturing process itself, the erection/assembly process, back-up power, and ultimately the decommissioning. This simple fact needs to be hammered home whenever a discussion arises.

Reply to  Doc Chuck
September 6, 2020 3:37 am

Actually an increasing amount of steel production is using green hydrogen to replace fossil fuels

Steve Walser
Reply to  Nicholas Newman
September 13, 2020 6:44 pm

If money is not object one can do many things that otherwise can’t be done. If we don’t mind impoverishing the west and starving the rest all these schemes can be forced to work.

Writing Observer
Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 4, 2020 9:23 pm

Now, now… Put your solar power plant into orbit, and it will provide completely reliable 24/7 energy. With the added benefit that your eagle dinner is done all the way through, not just flash broiled on the outside or chopped into tartare.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 4, 2020 10:52 pm

The term “UNRELIABLES” is accurate but inevitably provokes a negative response.

The term “weather-dependent generators” is more precise and less provocative.

It is hard to argue that they are weather dependent. An advocate can argue that wind turbines are more reliable than coal generators because up time is often better than 95%. Solar converters typically have up time in excess of 99% so very reliable.

We are unlikely to get perfect weather with constant wind even if CO2 gets back to 280ppm. And definitely will never have the sun always overhead everywhere on the globe.

John Larson
Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 3:40 am

I like “low density energy concentrators”!

Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 4:55 am

Both “unreliable’s” and “weather dependent” are accurate. I prefer intermittent because storage, direct use or integration with base load is required. All have problems.

Storage for any reasonable time (one month) is still hideously expensive and no where near the 6 to 12 months for diesel as an example. This almost never gets addressed by those promoting “renewable” energy.

Direct use is great if you can match the source to the need. When do you need air conditioning the most? Hot sunny days. When do photovoltaic panels work the best? Hot sunny days. The problem here is the ROI because you are not using it all the time so instead of claiming 10 years for payback it is 30-40 which is beyond the lifespan of the product.

Integrating intermittent sources requires a base load that is capable of spinning down which only natural gas currently provides AFAIK.

The future is nuclear and if some of the haters could take some time and give serious consideration to LFTR and other failsafe designs it would be a good start. We have the luxury of 50+ years of natural gas so it isn’t a rush but we should get planing, testing and implementing soon.

Reply to  TRM
September 5, 2020 12:06 pm

First off, most people don’t come home and start using energy until well into the evening, long after the available solar energy has started to plummet.
Beyond that, energy demand continues well into the night because people need to cook, wash dishes and clothes, and keep the AC running.
Further more, you must live in a hot climate, for much of the country peak energy demand occurs on cold winter nights, when there is no available solar energy.

Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 7:44 am

I like the fact that none of the enthusiasts ever address impediments like snow on the solar panels, frozen gears in the wind turbines in ice storms and blizzards – you know, just the ordinary weather stuff that the rest of us know about down here in the real world.

Reply to  Sara
September 5, 2020 12:08 pm

It’s not just frozen gears, ice buildup on the blades is also a major problem. If it unbalances the blades, it makes the turbines unusable. Even if it doesn’t unbalance the blades, ice build up makes the blades a lot less efficient. (Think airplane wings with ice on them.)

Jim Whelan
Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 8:43 am

Wimps who keep worrying about “provoking a negative response” is why I and many others voted for Trump. It’s time to quit worrying about what a bunch of idiots think and state the clear and honest truth using clear and honest words.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 9:23 am

RickWill posted: “The term “weather-dependent generators” is more precise . . .”

Ummm . . . I do believe solar PV generation is far more dependent on day vs. night conditions that it is on weather.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
September 5, 2020 12:09 pm

They both matter, however day vs night is a bit more predictable.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
September 5, 2020 4:55 pm

I do believe solar PV generation is far more dependent on day vs. night conditions that it is on weather.

But Solar PV is still weather dependent. Day, night and yearly azimuth variation are predictable. The weather-dependent components are clouds, dust, hail, snow, smoke haze; probably the main ones. The weather dependent aspects are the challenging part in designing systems to produce useful energy.

Mainland Australia is generally blessed with good sunshine but a cyclone/rain depression can block the sun out for 4 or more consecutive days anywhere on the east coast during summer. The condition becomes the basis for designing storage or firming generation to supply demand as needed; weather-dependent is the best term.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  RickWill
September 6, 2020 7:51 am

So, you assert that “predictability” basically negates power output dependency on external, uncontrollable factors such as the daily percentage of sunlight?

Then please allow me to reword your last sentence to read: “The condition becomes the basis for designing STORAGE TO SUPPLY WEEK-LONG POWER OUTPUT AT RATED PLANT CAPACITY or firming generation to supply demand as needed; weather-INDEPENDENT THEN BECOMES the best term.

bill Johnston
Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 10:14 am

“Up time” is not the same as “productive time”.

Reply to  bill Johnston
September 5, 2020 5:19 pm

But up time is a measure of reliability. And I was making the point that the term ‘unreliables’ is not the best terminology to describe weather-dependent generators.

I have solar panels on my roof powering an off-grid supply system that have been100% reliable over the last 10 years. The system efficiency, including batteries and inverter have achieved 99.9% reliability in meeting the demand. To achieve that level of supply reliability I operate the solar panels at 4% capacity factor and the battery will supply the load for 2 days without need for recharge.

So weather dependent generators are commonly very reliable. Very high system reliability in meeting demand can be achieved providing the design caters for the variation in weather.

Weather dependent generators are not renewable because the cost of storage to meet demand as it occurs is currently too high. Storage cost under $100/kWh, with lifetime of 30 to 40 years, would get close to making weather-dependent generators renewable. None of the current technology offers a lower cost fuel replacement other than if firming is achieved using diesel generators.

Walt D.
Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 5:38 pm

The fact that we get no solar output before the sun rises and after it sets is not “weather-dependent”.
The fact that we get less solar in winter is also not “weather-dependent’.
The fact that wind has a diurnal pattern is also not “weather-dependent”.

Nigel in California
Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 4, 2020 10:57 pm


Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 5, 2020 12:21 am

solar and wind are predictable -even in California. you can adjust other energy sources (rapidly with some technologies) to cope with the expected ramp up or down of solar or wind.

California is suffering because of record demand – and record demand regionally, with hydro and out of state supply constrained by drought/heatwave.

I have yet to see convincing evidence there’d have been enough peaker fossil supply for a new record over 2006 in these circumstances.

Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 1:10 am

It’s called planning. Planning entails thinking leaders. This is CA.

Bryan A
Reply to  Derg
September 5, 2020 8:30 am

Solar IS predictable…
I predict you will only produce maximum usable power from 10:00 til 2:30
I also predict that you will produce no usable power for 14 – 16 hours every 24 hour period
I further predict that you will find it unreliable just when you need it most (Just look at California rolling blackouts)
It can also be predicted that partially cloudy days will cause a drop in production under their shadows
Then one could predict the requirement of needing triple the quantity of panels to recharge non renewablely sourced battery back-up systems as you can’t recharge them from panels if you’re already utilizing that energy during the day
Solar is definitely predictable
Predictably expensive, predictably unreliable, predictably a low density energy source, predictably requiring massive amounts of space

Reply to  Bryan A
September 5, 2020 12:13 pm

I predict that both solar and wind will continue to lose money and have to continue being massively subsidized.

Reply to  Bryan A
September 5, 2020 7:29 pm

I don’t know how they balance the grid on partially cloudy days, I have some solar panels on my house and they can be producing 5kwh when it is sunny and then a cloud comes across and it drops to 400w, soon the cloud is gone and suddenly the panels are producing 5kwh again. This would be happening across the whole town at once so how is balance maintained in the grid?

Reply to  Bryan A
September 5, 2020 7:53 pm

You can predict the maximum not the minimum. What if its a cloudy day. What will you do if clouds cover it on and off through out the day.

Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 2:02 am

What ‘other energy sources’ do you have in mind? Coal, gas, nuclear? I thought you wanted to get rid of all those. Make your mind up.

Reply to  JeffC
September 5, 2020 3:03 am

Unicorn pharts.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 4:43 am

Griff, I agree about solar, turns on just sfter sunrise and off just before sunset, more hours of stronger sunshine in summer than winter. Until the use of fossil fuel we all lived by the hours of sunshine.
Even in California wind is not predictable other than in a general way. The Santa Ana blows in autumn but also at other times, strength duration and date and time all unknown.
So for guaranteed 24/7/52/1000 you need another source of power, if that too is predictibily unreliable, for example tidal, you need a fourth.
I don’t know about you but having to invest in multiple energy sources is akin to buying five or six cars because none work all the time, and even then you might be careless seems foolish beyond sanity. Especially as you can have a reliable car from multiple suppliers.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
September 5, 2020 12:15 pm

To griff, if the weather man says that tomorrow is going to be windier than today, that constitutes a useful prediction regarding how much energy the wind turbines will produce.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 5:11 am

Gruff –> “out of state supply constrained by drought/heatwave.”
Get ready for more of this dude. Selling power to California on the spot market, even at exorbitant prices, will not pay for those state’s investment and operating expenses for 24×7 power production just for California.

California is currently relying on reserve capacity from other states. At some point, other state’s ratepayers will refuse to fund excess reserve capacity just for California. At that point, UT won’t take unprecedented demand to cause blackouts.

Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 6:06 am

Griff, It’s self evident they would have built new fossil fuel power stations to meet any new demand you care to image that is how it used to work .. …. it’s only when you get greentards in charge you stop doing it.

It’s like Africa there were over 50 fossil fueled power stations which are stalled or abandoned because greentards and the world have blocked access to loans to build them. The reason Africa has such huge power issues lies solely at the feet of greentards.

Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 7:09 am

Griffiepoo: We’re still waiting for your explanation for the enormous cost of electricity in the countries which have the highest proportion of “renewables” (Germany and Denmark).

Reply to  Graemethecat
September 5, 2020 12:16 pm

Obviously it’s greedy power companies. That can only be solved by turning over energy production (as well as everything else) to complete state ownership and control.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 7:30 am

“California is suffering because of record demand – and record demand regionally, with hydro and out of state supply constrained by drought/heatwave.”

You have just hit the nail on the head as to why California has an idiotic energy policy. Having your energy dependent on OPP (other people’s power) puts you at their mercy. And when push comes to shove, OPP will stay with the OP.

Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 8:42 am

You are incorrect. The load during the rolling blackouts was just shy of 47 GW. The previous peak load for CALISO was just over 50 GW. It was not a record demand, just a lack of the usual out of state resources and recently shutdown generation that usually got them through.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 8:52 am

What’s predictable got to do with anything? I can predict solar won’t work at night. It doesn’t help.

And who is to say that other states won’t get rid of their fossil-fuel plants. I know KS is.

So what other energy sources are you talking about? so where are these “other energy sources” going to come from?

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 9:37 am

griff posted: “. . . to cope with the expected ramp up or down of solar or wind.”

I do believe that Australia has amply demonstrated what happens to large electrical power grids when there are UNEXPECTED ramp downs in solar farms and wind farms that are connected to the grid.

Just a few references:

Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 12:12 pm

Is there no lie so stupid, that griff won’t repeat it over and over and over again?

We can predict wind, 24 hours in advance to within 1mph? Really? Because that’s the kind of prediction that is needed to make wind a little less unreliable.

We can predict where the clouds are going to be, with sub-kilometer precision, over 24 hours in advance? Really? Because that’s the kind of prediction that is needed to make solar a little less unreliable.

You haven’t seen the evidence because you’ve had your eyes tightly screwed shut. Again.
The fossil/nuclear plants that were forcibly shut down over the last 20 years would have more than covered the shortfall.

Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 1:08 pm

“…you can adjust other energy sources (rapidly with some technologies) to cope with the expected ramp up or down of solar or wind.”

If you don’t have a relatively stable consumption of gas, the people who own the wells and the pipelines won’t be able to supply you reliably. They won’t have the sort of revenue that they need to maintain all that infrastructure, and will just shut it down and dispose of it. Or else, they will charge you an enormous fee to keep that ability ready to deal with bad winds or weather.

Nuclear can do load following. The French do it, the ships in the Navy do it every day. There is an economic penalty for doing it, because thermal cycles on the fuel affect how long you can burn it, but does not have to be much, because the fuel itself is so cheap. compared to the cost of the rest of the plant.

Hydro is VERY good at load following, but the eco-left is adamantly opposed to any new hydro, and wants to tear down all the dams that are currently in operation.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 5, 2020 1:53 am

Solar plants and Wind turbines are *NOT* renewables. They are UNRELIABLE’S.
Of course they are re-new-able, most likely at a higher cost second time around.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Vuk
September 5, 2020 8:54 am


They are *NOT* renewable. They are replaceable. Not the same thing at all.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 5, 2020 9:39 am

Degree of sense of humour is not renewable or replaceable.

Benjamin Clegg
Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 5, 2020 1:56 am

I wholly agree with your comment I would like to try and get behind their rationale of calling them RENEWABLE.

Solar and Wind Turbines ARE considered “renew-able” as they only last a certain amount of years functionality (circa 20-30 yrs). After which you have to “RENEW” them from scratch.

On the other hand Hydro is not considered “renew-able” as the infrastructure is permanent. No great profits will be forthcoming after initial build recouped, as fairly fixed maintenance costs(inflation) and water costs won’t change. It is there until it falls circa (50-70 years).

Similarly Tidal (if ever ratified) will not be “renew-able” as tides are not fluctuating the electricity supply. Thereby negating the auspices of tariff rises except for inflation.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 5, 2020 5:13 am

They are also “have-to-be-frequently-renewed”.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
September 6, 2020 7:47 am

The word police thing the liberals do irritates me almost as much is their desire to destroy civilization. Every single package at Whole Foods has the word organic on it I see it is a testament to the stupidness of woke liberals

J Mac
September 4, 2020 6:20 pm

Reality and economics are harsh task masters!

September 4, 2020 6:22 pm

“chimerical” Great name for a California Renewable Energy company. Which con man do you think we can get to run it?

Bryan A
Reply to  d
September 4, 2020 7:18 pm

I Newsome one a while back but he Gavin to envirowhackos

Paul Johnson
Reply to  d
September 4, 2020 7:45 pm

Yes. Chimera Energy Company, fueled exclusively by an organically-generated, non-polluting form of natural gas – unicorn farts.

September 4, 2020 6:30 pm

So the’ll keep them running ’til the wind picks up. It’s a plan.

J Mac
Reply to  DHR
September 4, 2020 8:34 pm


Michael Jankowski
September 4, 2020 7:02 pm

Paging griff…

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
September 4, 2020 7:48 pm

Don’t be so disdainful of Griff.

He’s probably one of those gifted people who can recite the whole 400 pages of local telephone book listings without missing a beat.

Doesn’t understand what a telephone book actually is, mind you, but he can recite the whole 400 pages.

Reply to  Mr.
September 5, 2020 9:17 am

If you see any evidence of Griff’s giftedness, do let us know.

September 4, 2020 7:27 pm

If the hope is for it not to get hot again California then that hope was crushed today and will be utterly obliterated over the holiday weekend. Triple digit temperatures are the forecast. Pretty normal for this time of year…above average but not a big deal unless there are blackouts.


September 4, 2020 7:35 pm

If enough fools , make enough decisions, eventually they get one right

Reply to  yarpos
September 4, 2020 8:44 pm

Or get further and further from making the possibility of doing so. A right decision would be to build new high efficiency natural gas generating stations spread evenly over the state so as not to be all susceptible to some catastrophic event. An even better decision would be to get back into the nuclear business with the small modular reactors.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Richard
September 5, 2020 6:50 am

MSR is 10-20 years out. Even ColMosby admits it will be at least 6 years. And good luck siting even one MSR in California. The commissar will allow it as long as the fuel isn’t radioactive.

Reply to  Rich Davis
September 5, 2020 12:19 pm

Actually, they will only permit it so long as the output isn’t useful.

Larry Hamlin
September 4, 2020 7:36 pm

On August 19, 2020 (shortly after the rolling blackouts of August 14 and 15) the California ISO sent a letter to Governor Newsom clearly identifying that inadequate firm generation capacity was responsible for these rolling blackouts.
The letter also noted that the CPUC is responsible for purchasing firm capacity needed to meet electrical demand. The CPUC has now issued a directive to the California utilities requiring that an additional 3,300 MWs of capacity be procured by 2021 which is an acceleration by 3 years versus the prior timetable for this additional firm capacity of 2023.
The water quality control board was scheduled to shut down 4 additional coastal natural gas plants later in August because of their use of ocean cooling but that plan was dropped at their hearing because of the rolling blackouts.
Thus only 15 of 19 coastal natural gas plants have been shutdown with these idiotic shutdowns based on so called environmental damage of ocean cooling and to reduce the number of fossil plants on the books to make the states renewable progress look better for political purposes.
California because of its absurd push for unreliable renewable energy has now caused the state to once again try and meet its firm generation capacity needs by using the spot energy market as was the case in the energy crisis and rolling blackouts of 2001. During the August blackouts the western US region was in heat wave and there was not sufficient spot market energy available to meet load demand.
In 2019 California had to import 28% of its total energy from other state’s which is by far the most of any state in the nation.
Use of unreliable renewable energy is completely responsible for these most recent rolling blackouts clearly demonstrating that additional firm capacity is required by the state to meet load demand reliability due to the performance failure of its renewable energy resources.
Electricity rates in California have climbed by 60% more than average US electricity rates in the US since 2009 with these increases created by its mandated renewable energy use policies.
Californias push for renewables is driven by its meaningless claim of “fighting climate change” with the states emissions reductions amounting to a few tenths of a percent of present global emissions while future global energy and emissions led by the worlds developing nations are forecast to climb by quadrillions of BTUs and billions of metric tons of emissions.
California hypes its solar and wind renewables but the reality is that after nearly 15 years of government mandated use of renewables and many tens of billions of dollars in subsidies these resources only provided 22% of the states electricity in 2019 while natural gas provided over 34% of the state’s electricity.
Furthermore EIA data shows that electricity only represents about 20% of the states total energy use with fossil fuels providing about 80% of the states total energy needs while wind and solar provide only about 6.4% of the states total energy.
California’s energy and emissions policy are in need of a massive overhaul with the present schemes driven by nothing but the “blithering idiocy” of the states politically contrived climate alarmist and energy policy propaganda.

Reply to  Larry Hamlin
September 4, 2020 7:58 pm

I would suggest they call Enron.. oh, never mind.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  rbabcock
September 5, 2020 5:19 am

At least Enron had a “cookie jar” for massaging their results. Probably time to “get shorty” on California.

Reply to  Larry Hamlin
September 4, 2020 9:43 pm

Florida, aka the Sunshine State, gets 80% of its electricity from reliable natural gas-fired generation and has not had a single black-out from lack of supply. FL get’s on average about 1% (1.6% in April) from solar PV. California should strive to be like Florida.

September 4, 2020 7:39 pm

Maybe it won’t ever get hot again in California. Maybe there never will be smoke and smog blocking sunlight. Maybe storage capacity will be vastly increased. Maybe the gas plants will find an efficient , affordable way to discharge seawater without substantially affecting marine life. Maybe not.

Maybe California is going to dive further into 3rd World country status with its Green energy?
Maybe highly paid Californians exiting the state will accelerate under the crushing utility bills for unreliable electricity and higher taxes?
Maybe the Pope turns out to be Catholic after all?

John Piccirilli
September 4, 2020 7:59 pm

…UNTIL there are blackouts

September 4, 2020 8:04 pm

What will California do now without its’ ego to nurture it? Being the leader in renewables has been the rallying cry for decades. Despite the escalating electricity costs and reliability concerns it still laid claim to head honcho of the virtue signalers. Alas, no more.

Robert of Texas
September 4, 2020 8:33 pm

Dumping the “hot” water from the plants into a cooling pond seems like a “complex” problem requiring seconds and seconds of engineering…not advanced, not rocket science, just basic engineering. You run the water over a long channel of white rocks and let evaporation cool it off.

Better yet, but more expensive, use closed loop cooling with distilled water. Use large fans to draw off the heat. Make them look like small wind turbines and most Greenies will be happy never understanding the difference.

I can’t wait for California to try and build 12 hour storage capacity for its green infrastructure. Talk about a wake-up call. Wind and solar might average 30% efficiency, and you need twice of it to account for at least 12 hours of no wind or sun, so you have to build 7 times as much capacity using…really big numbers of square miles of pristine land. And then you have to pay for the battery – buildings, transmission lines, batteries, circuitry…

I wonder if the average Californian can afford the $1.50 per kWh it will require? LOL And I complain when I pay $0.10.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
September 4, 2020 9:37 pm

Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Plant cools its 3 x big 1.1 Gigawatt reactors with nothing but evaporative cooling.

Scouser in AZ
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 4, 2020 10:59 pm

And the evaporative cooling water is actually treated effluent from local towns/cities.

It’s also 27.4% owned by various Southern California entities.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
September 4, 2020 11:26 pm

After they closed down Hazelwood in Victoria, the fish in the cooling ponds didn’t like not having warm water.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Robert of Texas
September 5, 2020 9:01 am

The power plant near LaCygne, KS does exactly this. They built a large lake to use for cooling water. It is a tremendous place to go for large mouth bass fishing. I think they charge a fee for fishing there so they get a small return on the investment. The fish like that year round heat, kind of like Florida!

September 4, 2020 8:44 pm

“Of course the notion that the warm sea water discharge from the plants seriously harms marine life may also be open to some debate.”

The literature does show some concern about SST anomalies in coastal regions created by warm water discharge from power plants in what is termed “thermal pollution” in the literature where we find that some critters love thermal pollution (example: green turtles and sharks) while others don’t (example: phytoplankton). The research question and methodology in these studies appear to contain a confirmation bias, that is not to determine whether there is an impact but to determine just how bad it could be. These studies focus on tropical and sub-tropical regions. To their credit, they admit that natural SST anomalies in coastal areas are the norm and much more prevalent than human caused anomalies as seen in the graphical animation of coastal SST anomaly cycles worldwide December 2018 to January 2020 in the linnked document below. It should also be mentioned that these SST anomalies are brief in that they come and go in cycles at time scales of less than 3 months. My analysis is based on the assumption that power plant thermal pollution SST anomalies would show up in the satellite data presented in the GIF image mentioned above.

Pls see

September 4, 2020 10:02 pm

Margaret pushed the reliables out. Clarice is bringing them back. About time.

September 4, 2020 11:09 pm

Based on this article, it seems that California has not installed smart meters.

Smart meters have the ability to be turned off remotely. It would be a simple matter to get all Californians to sign up for low cost wind and solar electricity or remain on high cost, polluting fossil fuel supply. I am certain there would be plenty of volunteers. Once they did that, they could be just isolated when there was insufficient sun and wind. Cut them off and re-energise on a rolling basis so demand matches output. Those unwoke sticking with the polluting stuff would be quite obvious by the lights actually being on at night. The rest of the community could beat then into wokeness.

This is the future for weather-dependent energy supply – Demand Management. It is now a feature of the Australian electricity supply system since recruiting Audrey Zibelman from New York. Consumers should never expect 100% reliability of supply – it just costs too much to achieve that standard.

Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 12:22 am

Except nobody has or will use smart meters to switch off supply without consent. Demand management is a different matter…

Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 4:01 am

Once you sign up for the low cost energy you have given consent to be controlled in accordance with the availability of energy.

Using smart meters to isolate household supply is standard practice in some States in Australia. Under Covid restrictions the suppliers are not permitted to do it but once things are back to normal it will happen in large number every day. There is a warning process but after failing to pay after warning the power gets isolated. There consumer is not required to give permission. Once disconnected they have to pay to get reconnected – it is an administrative fee to de-isolate the supply.

Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 6:12 am

Yes it will be interesting to see how the East Coast handles power in the next few years they are getting very close to California. Western Australia has already moved to slow solar power installation as the grid is starting to destabilize one or two of the mining company gas co-gens will be tasked to increase baseload.

Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 10:52 am

There has been massive take up in rooftop solar in Australia, driven by the need to offset rising electricity prices. With summer coming up, it is predicted the energy regulator will cut off individual suppliers at the smart meters during midday spikes. At the same time the energy distribution networks will struggle during the long and hot afternoons and evenings. California, here we come!

Bryan A
Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 11:34 am

And, with how they’re connected to prevent back feeding to the grid, solar panels are Useless once your power is curtailed

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 5:23 am

The first application is to switch off supply to those who haven’t paid their bill, so you are wrong.

Bob boder
Reply to  griff
September 5, 2020 5:23 am

That’s the point Griff!
So the only way people like you can get what they want is by the use of Political power and force. Since your beliefs are wrong and the need for this change is none existent your desire to use political power and force is Fascist/Communist, which makes you the enemy of free people every where.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Bob boder
September 5, 2020 9:12 am


Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 1:15 am


Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 4:44 am

“ Consumers should never expect 100% reliability of supply – it just costs too much to achieve that standard.”

Why not? Why have low expectations?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Derg
September 5, 2020 5:28 am

Technically Griff is right. But most of us expect a 5 nines reliability or at least 4 nines, which is under an hour of outage on average per year. Storms will continue to bring down powerlines, and there will be other mishaps.

Rich Davis
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
September 5, 2020 6:21 am

I guess my childhood memory is faulty. We had the great east coast blackout and a handful of other outages of a few hours duration in my first two decades. Other than that, power outage usually meant two or three minutes that was an inconvenience at most.

In my sixth decade, if the power goes out, it’s not unusual for it to be out for three days or a week. It’s probably caused by a lot of factors, but nobody will convince me that crumbling infrastructure and union rules don’t rank high on the list.

Reply to  Rich Davis
September 5, 2020 8:59 am

Depends on where you live. We get a lot of high winds, and we love our trees, so, you get the idea.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Rich Davis
September 5, 2020 2:41 pm

Jeff I’m talking about New England. We have a lot of trees and always have had. The difference is that the power companies are paralyzed by the increasingly irrational government regulators who demand boondoggles like offshore wind to compete for capital spending with necessary maintenance and upgrades.

We’ve had a series of multi-day outages from tree damage but the root cause is not keeping trees away from power lines (the most basic maintenance). Then when there are outages, the time it takes to clear them is orders of magnitude longer than in the past. Is that because safety wasn’t adequate in the past? Or because union wages are so high that utilities simply can’t afford to have sufficient crews?

One thing is certain, government mandates are more onerous than ever, and system reliability has never been worse.

Reply to  Derg
September 5, 2020 4:30 pm

Why not? Why have low expectations?

You need to ask Audrey that – Australia inherited her and her wisdom from New York.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  RickWill
September 5, 2020 10:02 am

Except that there is no such thing as “low cost wind and solar electricity” being provided by ANY utility company operating in the State of California.

In fact, to use 100% renewable-sourced electricity provided by So Cal Edison, a residential customer pays a “Green Rate premium” of 1.26 cents/kWh in CY2020 above the rate charged for composite generation (which includes fossil fuels and nuclear). Ref:

It is not so simple a matter once you understand this basic fact.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
September 5, 2020 4:39 pm

The only source of renewable energy known to man comes from managed forests and it is considerably more expensive than using coal or gas. I figure you did not really mean renewable energy but rather weather-dependent energy.

There is no doubt that weather dependent wind and solar generators produce low cost electricity. They only get expensive if you require power at a given point in time. If you are prepared to only use energy when it is available then it is low cost – hence the need for smart meter control of premises choosing the low cost option. When the wind is blowing and the sun is shining you can have the lights on. If either are low then you cannot have the lights on all the time.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  RickWill
September 6, 2020 8:03 am

You figure wrong. I am using the commonly accepted definition of “renewable” sources of energy.

Per Wikipedia: “Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.” Ref:

As for your claim: “There is no doubt that weather dependent wind and solar generators produce low cost electricity.” That has as much credibility as your very first sentence.

September 5, 2020 2:29 am

Across the board, the virtuous left has ignored the infrastructure needs of the state for decades and in grim reaper fashion, reality is now knocking at the door. California provides us, if nothing else, a test tube for the country to witness.

September 5, 2020 2:42 am

When it comes to the point of replacing the old “renewables”, I have yet to see an estimate of the cost of dismantling and recycling or disposing of the old units before replacing them. Could it be that it will doubling the cost of replacement? I can’t see Moore’s Law applying to neodymium, cobalt and lithium etc.
There is always a lot of fuss made about the long term storage of nuclear waste, which does at least have a half life, and IIRC many of the waste products can be used in new types of reactor thus reducing the disposal problem.
What is the half life of old solar panels and wind turbine blades? I am led to believe that solar panels have some quite nasty elements incorporated in them.

Reply to  StephenP
September 5, 2020 6:07 am

Even NPR has exposed the harsh reality regarding the disposal of industrial scale wind turbines.

Reply to  Sommer
September 5, 2020 6:51 am

Wind turbines are forever! Or maybe Griff can give us a reference to their half life?

September 5, 2020 4:27 am

Won’t this problem be self leveling? More rolling blackouts would then trigger people to leave California (which they are anyway) which would then reduce demand on the system, reducing the likelihood of blackouts?

September 5, 2020 4:37 am

Nice to see the USA implementing economic sanctions against itself.

Alasdair Fairbairn
September 5, 2020 4:57 am

These coastal gas plants need to get their act together. They have nothing to lose in the long term as they are destined for closure. Why not preempt these closures in compliance with policy; but on an intermittent basis by going offline at inconvenient moments, so just withdrawing their labour as in a strike situation.? It would need to be done intelligently, politically well timed, not too often and of short duration, but just enough to make people think.
Agreed a nasty proposal which hopefully could be avoided; but it is an action which would bring home to the population the consequences of the current policies and would hopefully make many think about their voting decisions.
At the very least it would bring the debate to the political table in a new light.
Perhaps I am being naive over the legal consequences but assuredly the lawyers would be rubbing their hands in glee.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Alasdair Fairbairn
September 5, 2020 5:33 am

Greens jump on any unscheduled shutdown as evidence of unreliability, and reason to close the plant immediately. All it does is hasten the day of complete grid unreliability, or at best high cost solutions such as diesel generators.

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
September 5, 2020 9:27 am

“as evidence of unreliability, and reason to close the plant immediately.”

Except when the unreliability is solar or wind. That would be reason to have even more.

Reply to  Alasdair Fairbairn
September 5, 2020 6:15 am

last I saw they still intend to take Diablo Canyon Nuke offline so they don’t need any more help they are already in a world of grief.

It doesn't add up...
September 5, 2020 5:39 am

I presume that lower weekend demand may save the California grid from rolling blackouts in this weekend’s heatwave. But we can expect plenty of catastrophism.

Rich Davis
September 5, 2020 5:43 am

I know, “birds in the dessert” are not my cup of tea either. Keep asking the missus, hold the sparrows. I just want the pie and ice cream.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Rich Davis
September 5, 2020 7:21 am

Yeah, Rich I got a chuckle when I saw that. Brings to mind something about ‘four and twenty blackbirds….’

September 5, 2020 6:47 am

Here’s the only future with rooftop solar and the duck curve-
Battery storage doesn’t stack up and likely never will (without some unimaginable tech breakthrough) against storing the energy as hot water or modifying the temperature of the home.

Reply to  observa
September 5, 2020 9:13 am

OTOH there’s always the new Green Colonialism whereby it’s better to import energy rather than energy poor Africans from across the Mediterranean-
Cue all the morally outraged lefties pouring onto the streets about that near you very soon methinks?

September 5, 2020 7:16 am

Relicensing the 4 plants is a case in point. Our elected officials, having been elected at least partly on a platform of stopping environmental degredation, also realize the voters will not accept shortage of electricity for their beer frig.

Gordon A. Dressler
September 5, 2020 9:20 am

On September 10, 2018, almost exactly two years ago, Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s most ambitious energy bill into law: Senate Bill 100 (SB 100). This law requires California to become “carbon free” in electrical generation within the state by 2045.

Well, it only took two years before reality reared its ugly head.

I’m betting that it will only be another five or so years before most Californian’s recognize SB 100 for the farce that it truly is.

September 5, 2020 9:20 am

Who is the Chief Engineer that is doing all the complaining about using seawater and the effects it has on the marine life. There is a way around that and it’s called a Closed Loop. A large diameter “pipe”can be connected to the intake and dump side of the power plant. This loop would reach out for a to be determined distance and brought back to the power plant. The water in the Loop would not be fresh sea water. The heated water would dissipate over the length of the Loop, so there is no “hot spots”. Marine life would not be effected and no marine life would be sucked into the power plants intake.

Shanghai Dan
September 5, 2020 9:26 am

I live in Port Hueneme – 5 miles from the two Oxnard natgas peaker stations. The sealife around those outlets is perfectly fine; in fact, the Mandalay station doesn’t dump to the ocean, it has a ~2 mile long canal, from the Oxnard harbor (heavily built up with houses and slips) before it hits the ocean.

The outlet for the Ormond Beach plant is a well-known fishing hotspot, plenty of cod to be found in the seaweed around the intake/outlets.

Loren Wilson
September 5, 2020 1:18 pm

Just drove past several decent-sized wind farms along the southern Texas coast. A lot of blades were not turning, and this is during a period of maximum demand. The reliability of wind power is not just affected by the wind, these windmills are not even close to having the mechanical reliability and uptime of a gas turbine or coal-fired power plant. Repairs are also more expensive due to the difficulty in getting to the unit.

September 5, 2020 4:47 pm

“You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing…
After they have tried everything else ”

Winston Churchill

Walt D.
September 5, 2020 5:53 pm

Here is the official California Independent System Operator site:

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