L A Times Hype That California Natural Gas Price Hikes Are Due To “Instability of Fossil Fuels” Grossly Distorted

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

The L A Times long campaign of politically driven and flawed climate alarmism propaganda editorials which includes the Times incompetent and misrepresented claims for the year 2022 climate outcomes as exposed in a recent WUWT article (shown below) has now moved on to another contrived editorial falsely attributing the recent high natural gas prices in California to “instability of fossil fuels” an assertion so outlandishly distorted and politically labored it would make both Russian Premier Putin and Pravda proud because of the Times unabashed disinformation behind this claim.

This latest Times editorial completely conceals the global wide failure of unreliable renewable energy that cannot be dispatched to meet electric system load demand with that flawed performance outcome resulting in huge generation capacity demand shortfalls that required large increased use of fossil fuels that were unplanned for and consequently capability limited. 

This global wide renewable energy failure drove global nations to rely upon emergency fossil fuel purchases from unreliable and unsavory high priced energy market players including Russia that then further used this situation to try and blackmail these nations into ignoring Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine or face curtailment of desperately needed fossil fuels that were required to make up for the catastrophically failed performance of unreliable renewable energy in these nations.

The Times editorial shown below completely conceals the global wide failure of unreliable renewable energy which is at the heart of the present fossil fuel price and availability natural gas energy market debacle outcomes.

Fortunately, other less renewable energy advocacy biased, and politically contrived climate change propaganda driven media publications have addressed California’s present natural gas price hike issues more completely and competently than the distorted Times editorial including a series of comprehensive articles recently done by the Orange County Register.

The Register editorial shown below gets to the heart of the policy failure by California politicians that delivered this natural gas availability and  high price energy debacle.

Key items from the Register editorial are presented below:

“Natural gas prices have surged in California. The cost of the commodity is up 314% from a year ago, according to SoCalGas.

In the rest of the country, however, the price of natural gas is not surging. In some places, natural gas futures are the lowest they’ve been in 17 months, while in California, natural gas currently costs five times the benchmark U.S. price.”

“But something can be done about it. California could produce more natural gas in-state, as it did in the past. Ten years ago, production in California was double what it is today.”

“Overall, California uses more natural gas than any state except Texas, and almost one-third of it is used to run power plants that generate electricity.

Yet state leaders rarely if ever acknowledge reality when it comes to energy policy, preferring to pretend that the use of “fossil fuels” will be completely phased out, on an ever-accelerating timetable.”

The ridiculous L A Times editorial addressed above insanely emphasized the need to accelerate the use of unreliable high-cost renewable energy which of course would only exacerbate the states, country and global wide present natural gas availability and price energy debacle.

The Register article concluded with this real-world assessment of California’s natural gas energy debacle:

“Californians are suffering this winter because politicians prefer lofty speeches on climate change to rational discussions about critical industries and infrastructure.”

The Register also published an article that examined in more detail the issues that have caused the state to experience natural gas price hikes as shown below.

The article highlights many different natural gas energy market conditions and complexities that have accounted for the natural gas price hikes in California. Compare this assessment of the state’s natural gas debacle to the incompetent and politically contrived failures to present and discuss such issues that comprised the Times propaganda editorial.

“Southern California residents, get ready for a severe case of sticker shock as your natural gas bills across the region soar more than double this winter, according to the region’s two chief utility companies.”

“Though gas bills tend to increase slightly during the winter as more gas is used to combat cold weather, both companies attributed the rate increases to corresponding hikes in the market cost of natural gas — which, for a slew of interconnected reasons including the California drought, unexpected severe cold snaps across the country, and Russia’s war in Ukraine has jumped about 128% since November.”

“To make matters worse, natural gas supply has not kept pace with the increased demand and U.S. natural gas exports to Europe are up significantly, putting an even greater strain on availability.”

“Europe relies heavily on Russian gas for its energy needs — especially during the wintertime with heating,” said Brian Peck, the University of Southern California’s Transnational Law and Business Center director in a Thursday, Jan. 5 interview. “And so as part of the U.S.-led effort to provide Western support for Ukraine, they have asked Europe to wean itself off of reliance on Russian gas.”

“But for the EU, which gets more than 40% of its liquified natural gas from Russia — an outright ban on the fuel wasn’t possible without major economic consequences for its residents. Biden’s deal to expand gas shipments to the EU, Peck said, aimed to help wean the collection of countries off of Russian natural gas over the next five years.”

“The U.S. has pledged to support exports of liquefied natural gas to help Europe wean itself off and become less reliant on Russian oil, which would then decrease gas revenues to Russia’s regime,” Peck said. “(It also) help(s) insulate Europe from Russia’s restrictions on gas until Europe can wean itself off the supply.”

“International relations aren’t the only factor stressing the supply of natural gas in Southern California. Along with the new year, the state celebrated a much more grim milestone: Its fourth year of severe drought.”

“Though a majority of California’s electricity is still generated using natural gas, according to the state’s Energy Commission, about 10.2% of all California electricity is created with hydropower. The state’s shrinking water supply, though, has forced an even heavier reliance on natural gas for electricity production in recent years.”

“And because 90% of California’s natural gas supply is imported — largely from West Texas, the Rocky Mountains, and the Four Corners area — the state relies heavily on the health of a vast interstate of transport pipelines to receive its share of the supply.”

“Capacity along that crucial interstate pipeline has suffered in recent months, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), as wholesale suppliers in West Texas, one of California’s main importers, have dealt with a series of maintenance issues.”

“Natural gas storage capacity in California’s underground reservoirs — three of which are in the Los Angeles area — has also been greatly reduced in recent years.”

“Natural gas levels in storage facilities across the Pacific Region — which includes California, Washington state, and Oregon — were 25% lower in December than a year earlier, according to the EIA, and 30% below the five-year average. “In Northern California, Pacific Gas and Electric’s injections, to rebuild natural gas inventories, have not kept pace with previous summers,” the EIA added.”

The Register published yet another article addressing the many reasons behind the states natural gas price hikes in the article shown below.

“None of us lives in Hearst Castle. Yet my natural gas bill shot from $44 to nearly $300 in the span of two months. Kay Kearney’s is projected to hit $368 in January — more than three times what she paid this time last year. And Burl Estes is staring down a $397 tab for having the audacity to keep warm.

“It’s not sustainable,” said Kearney, whose home in Garden Grove is a modest 1,500 square feet. “We keep the thermostat at 68, when raining and cold. Turn off the heater when it’s nicer. With the current economic issues and inflation what are we to do? There is nowhere left to cut back.”

The article gets down to the heart of California’s obsession with unreliable renewable energy and ill-considered rejection of fossil fuels that was totally concealed and ignored by the L A Times editorial as follows:

“We’ll talk about the powerful supply-and-demand forces at work here in a moment, but first, the nitty gritty, at least according to some experts: Politics, with perhaps a dash of greed.

With good intentions and pure heart, more or less, California hurtles headlong toward 100% renewable energy. We snub fossil fuel power plants and natural gas storage facilities in our quest to quell global warming. But we don’t yet have enough reliable — and affordable — energy to replace them.”

Concerning the challenges of supply and demand the article notes:

“You’ve heard a lot about “perfect storms” and dark tales of market manipulation. But the official explanation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is a simple tale of supply and demand.

Demand: From the Canadian border to the Mexican border, the West Coast has been shivering thanks to widespread, below-normal temperatures that force us all to sleep with socks on. This increases demand for natural gas — which is, by far, the greatest source of our energy supply for all but eight hours of the day, when the sun is shining and solar power is plentiful, according to the California Independent System Operator (which runs our electric grid).

Supply: Unfortunately, supply has dropped precisely as demand has shot up. Folks up north aren’t shipping natural gas down our way because they’re cold, too. An interstate pipeline in Texas that feeds the West Coast has been down for maintenance. And we’re just not banking as much natural gas as we might; storage levels on the West Coast are low, as one can see in the tale of the troubled Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, which is allowed to operate at 60% of capacity and is on the chopping block.”

The article concludes:

“Even if prices drop dramatically, the underlying issues of switching from fossil fuel to green energy remain. California’s insistence on doing that quickly means no investment in new pipelines and new storage, which means we’re forced to rely on the expensive spot market.”

“The goals are just too far-fetched and unrealistic — unless you want to inflict major economic pain,” said Hiatt of USC. “The problem is, so much political capital has been built into this that no one wants to admit they did something wrong. Just push forward until something breaks.”

A more sober, and less painfully expensive approach: Plan for a longer transition period, he said.”

The L A Times editorial was politically contrived and employed concealment, ignorance and grossly inadequate misrepresentation of global wide unreliable renewable energy failures that drove the huge world need for increased use of natural gas and other fossil fuels. The Times editorial presented nothing but flawed propaganda hyping ridiculously inept support for more unreliable renewable energy mandates that were at the heart of the present global wide natural gas availability and price increase energy debacle.  

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Tom Halla
January 27, 2023 6:24 am

The people shilling for “renewables” are shameless, as we in Texas learned after the Valentines Day 2021 storm. It was really natural gas failing in freezing rain and still air, not windmills! So questioning why Texas had a near crash should never investigate the problem with subsidy mining of wind.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 27, 2023 7:55 am

Don’t forget the failure of gas in Texas was the Obama regulation that ended natural gas devices for preventing freezing of pipeline facilities. They had switched to electric heating which had failed!!

Tom Halla
Reply to  Gary Pearse
January 27, 2023 8:02 am

What I was aware of was a requirement for electric powered compressors on natural gas pipelines, rather than gas turbines. So when the electric power went down, so did the gas supply.

Bryan A
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 27, 2023 10:18 am

It was a failure of the State to depend on Ruinables to keep the Gas moving. Once the Wind froze and electricity began to fail, gas supplies followed. Though Gas did step up to cover MOST of the RECORD ELECTRIC DEMAND while wind and solar tanked.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2023 10:31 am

There was also a problem with the air sourced heat pumps in low temperatures, where below a certain temperature, resistance heating takes over and demand spiked.

Reply to  Bryan A
January 28, 2023 12:22 pm

Wind tanks regularly in Texas — once a week would be typical. The problem is the natural gas infrastructure. Natural gas production declines significantly in extremely ci old weather and the pipelines need electricity to move the gas. The natural gas infrastructure including natgas power plants can not function properly in extremely cold weather in Texas, Still true today. The problem was discovered in the 1980s. The fix is not more natural gas power plants and definitely not more windmills and solar panels. If the pipelines don’t work even more natgas storage would not help.

January 27, 2023 6:34 am

I have long suspected that Los Angeles is in fact in another dimension somewhere, completely detached from our everyday reality on planet Earth.

The approach of politicians and their voters reminds me of a very weird mental illness: Apotemnophilia – the desire to be an amputee. 

Mr Ed
Reply to  strativarius
January 27, 2023 7:52 am

It’s not just LA, it’s entire west coast. Up here in Montana we’ve been calling
Bozeman BozAngles and Helena Helifornia for a reason. It’s been happening
for as long as I can remember . Some are really great folks
they just want to get out and raise their kids in a better environment or escape the
situation their now in, but some
of the others are certifiably wacko greenie types and they are bringing their
views and big city driving habits with them. Local letters to the editors are full of stuff like stopping “fossil fuels use” The government workers in Helena are full of ’em
and such. .Maybe a string of the winters like we had back in the 70’s would help.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Mr Ed
January 27, 2023 8:04 am

The classic T-Shirt slogan is Don’t Californicate Texas

Reply to  Mr Ed
January 27, 2023 8:14 am

A strong dose of something is called for

Bryan A
Reply to  strativarius
January 27, 2023 10:25 am

An Enema is called for…The entire Fleets

Bryan A
Reply to  Mr Ed
January 27, 2023 10:20 am

They don’t call it “LA LA LAND” for nothing

January 27, 2023 6:55 am

The UK’s wind generating nameplate capacity is enough to generate the majority of UK electrical demand. What’s it managing right now? A little over 10%. Wind is a terrible energy source

Reply to  BigCarbonPrint
January 27, 2023 11:57 am

Every blackout or near failure of the system occurs at a time when both wind and solar have failed. That’s a pretty clear indication of the source of the problems, isn’t it?

Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 28, 2023 12:31 pm

Not true in Texas in the February 2011. blackout
The February 2021 blackout in Texas was not caused by low wind power. That happens frequently with wind. It was a decline of natural gas power that caused almost all of the decline of electric power that was demanded. Nagas is supposed to work in all weather conditions. It partially failed in extremely cold weather. Wind is supposed to work when the wind is blowing. It is not considered a failure of the equipment if the wind is not blowing. It is a failure of the grid managers for promoting and subsidizing windmills in Texas.
Buying them without optional blade deicers didn’t help. Windmills did what they often do — little or no electric generated about 60% of the time. And that 60% can’t be predicted.

The Texas blackout in February 2021 could have happened with few windmills in use just like the February 2011 Texas blackout. More gas power plants would have been useless in 2021 if there was an insufficient gas supply for them.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  BigCarbonPrint
January 28, 2023 7:53 am

It’s now down to 6.7%

Reply to  BigCarbonPrint
January 28, 2023 12:35 pm

Some links to sources of electricity monitoring websites:

National Grid: Live (iamkate.com)

Ontario, Canada
Power Data (ieso.ca)

Real-time Operating Grid – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

January 27, 2023 7:18 am

Natural gas wholesale prices are recently collapsing due to demand destruction, as the global economies contract.


Ron Long
January 27, 2023 7:23 am

When the density of idiots exceeds a limit there always is a disaster (sort of a modification of Darwin’s Natural Selection).

Bryan A
Reply to  Ron Long
January 27, 2023 10:28 am

That’s a good word to describe a group of idiots…
A Density of Idiots!
Describes the California Legislature perfectly.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2023 11:02 am

Yes, a new collective noun! Something like “A bundle of sticks” or a “pile of leaves.”

January 27, 2023 7:35 am

We have had to set our thermostat at 61deg. F. inside our house in order to manage our PG&E rate rape. Yes, we sit around the house with our hoodies on. And we just completed an extensive remodel which included foam insulation and a building envelope that is far above minimum Title-24 requirements, and our tankless water heater and brand new furnace are 97% efficient. Behold our CA future! Suffer paeans! Suffer for Gaia, Amen! People are evil, useless eaters! Suffer!

Yes … there IS a breaking point at which the current exodus of Californians will start resembling an atmospheric river of people fleeing this State. And that point is coming fast.

Bryan A
Reply to  kenji
January 27, 2023 10:30 am

So long as you can pay Noose-some the Exit Tax

Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2023 4:40 pm

Do you think they might put guards at the border to make sure you pay it before you’re allowed to leave?

Reply to  kenji
January 27, 2023 12:00 pm

Maybe these are the 50 million climate refugees that the climate alarmists talked about. What is (or was) the population of California?

Bryan A
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 27, 2023 1:46 pm

39.24M. Of which 43.7M are registered Democrat voters
17.5M in the LA Metroplex area
5M illegal migrants

Reply to  kenji
January 28, 2023 12:42 pm

Does 61 degrees F/ inside a home include a woman?
After 35 years in the same home, not well insulated with the thermostat set at 70 degrees, this winter I lowered the thermostat to 68 degrees, which is my choice anyway. The wife would prefer 72 degrees.

This morning I set the thermostat at 66 degrees when we went out for grocery shopping. By 3pm the wife was in bed under two blankets and the mattress heating pad was on. I looked at her and checked the thermostat — it was still at 66 degrees. My cat was sitting on a heat vent waiting for heat and giving me a dirty look. He’d prefer 72 degrees also. I can’t imagine 61 degrees inside a home

My family is originally from New York. I moved to Michigan in 1977 for a job. They all moved to California. Don’t ask me why. They have since all left California. If all the leftists in my family bailed out of California (over 10 years ago) it must have been pretty bad. Probably worse now.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Greene
Gary Pearse
January 27, 2023 7:48 am

“outcome resulting in huge generation capacity demand shortfalls that required large increased use of fossil fuels that were unplanned for and consequently capability limited. ”

Scratch a bit deeper here to get the the most ironical half of the story! The short capabilities of the oil and gas industry itself was the result of the huge, holostic anti-fossil fuel campaign by these same political heads of state in the West! Interfering in markets, denying access to investment, cancelling pipelines, restrictive regulations, advertising the end of fossil fuel’s future,windfall taxing…. These clowns were unaware of the life and death critical part that FF played in making renewables work at all.

E. Schaffer
January 27, 2023 8:06 am

“If it was not for the special military operation, there could have been war. God forbid” – russian civilian on what she thinks about Putin’s SMO.

For everyone it is easy to see the propaganda on the other side. It is just uncanny how it is identical, just with different topics, in the west.

January 27, 2023 8:28 am

I just posted on this on twitter. https://twitter.com/aaronshem/status/1618998612775825411

The increasing cost of variability, driven by renewables and electrification, is borne by coal, nuclear, gas & transmission, driving up the overall cost & the price relative to renewables. The system is also designed to ignore risk to help accommodate addition of renewables to the grid.

The addition of renewables is preferred over maintenance of baseload & load following power generation, increasing risk & grid transmission/management cost. As renewables are added & controllable generation is taken offline the increasing costs are borne by a smaller & smaller pool of controllable generation. The relative price increases drive more shutdowns of reliable generation. It’s a vicious positive feedback cycle.

However, putting all our eggs in the natural gas basket is dangerous. Natural gas should be used for heat, cooking, & variability. Relying on it also for baseload is risky. It will not always be cheap.

We need to make our natural gas system much more flexible. Natural gas distribution should be more adaptable with a large capacity range operated at the low end & easily rerouted. Natural gas should be used for load following & minimally for baseload.

Our gas distribution system should be highly flexible and proven. Excess capacity should be constantly tested and exported when not needed.

We could also reduce coal use & deal with plastic pollution by increasing our waste to energy efforts by building incinerators. These incinerators could follow load & also burn coal when needed. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-43120041

If we were properly focused on energy security, greenhouse gas emissions would be a moot point. #AntiFragileEnergy #GreenNUCLEARDeal #HighlyFlexibleNaturalGas #IncineratePlasticPollution #WasteToEnergy #FissionFuture

By using less gas for baseload, increasing capacity & storage, making distribution more flexible, and exporting excess capacity when not needed, we could help some with this. https://mobile.twitter.com/JusperMachogu/status/1612290570063429633


“The reason it crashed last time was that market was engineered to ignore risk to accommodate renewables, gas banked on shortfalls and price spike for windfall profits instead building for reliability.”

Last edited 4 months ago by aaron
Jeff Alberts
January 27, 2023 8:33 am

Larry, commas are a thing.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 27, 2023 8:35 am

One sentence, with no punctuation:

The L A Times long campaign of politically driven and flawed climate alarmism propaganda editorials which includes the Times incompetent and misrepresented claims for the year 2022 climate outcomes as exposed in a recent WUWT article (shown below) has now moved on to another contrived editorial falsely attributing the recent high natural gas prices in California to “instability of fossil fuels” an assertion so outlandishly distorted and politically labored it would make both Russian Premier Putin and Pravda proud because of the Times unabashed disinformation behind this claim.”

Janice Moore
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 27, 2023 10:49 am

Yes. Apostrophes, too (“The L A Times[] long campaign … the Times[] … claims … .”).

EXCELLENT content. Could use a little help with style and syntax… . 🙂

Last edited 4 months ago by Janice Moore
Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 27, 2023 8:49 pm

I didn’t want to overwhelm Larry with more than one thing at a time. 🙂

January 27, 2023 9:05 am

This is a story tip.

see Bjorn’s piece in the WSJ on partisan “fact checkers”. It would help if the LAT was not part of the problem.
Partisan ‘Fact Checkers’ Spread Climate-Change MisinformationI posted sound statistics on polar-bear populations, and Agence France-Presse called them ‘misleading.’By Bjorn Lomborg
Jan. 26, 2023

John Hultquist
January 27, 2023 11:19 am

 “instability of fossil fuels

I was misled by this. I was expecting new science to be revealed that
would place oil or coal on the instability list to join Francium.
In fact, instability likely applies to the editors of the newspaper.

January 27, 2023 11:50 am

Ah yes, the appalling instability of fossil fuels.

In one particular 24hr period near you:

9am – gas efficiency 61%, solar 5%, wind 18%.
12 noon – gas efficiency 61%, solar 35%, wind 38%.
3pm – gas efficiency 61%, solar 30%, wind 15%.
6pm – gas efficiency 61%, solar 5%, wind 25%.
9pm – gas efficiency 61%, solar 0%, wind 0%.
12 midnight – gas efficiency 61%, solar 0%, wind 12%.
3am – gas efficiency 61%, solar 0%, wind 6%.
6am – gas efficiency 61%, solar 0%, wind 15%.

There must be a strong pattern in there somewhere, if only one could see it.

[The above is a comment I made recently on another WUWT thread, but it seemed worth repeating here.]

Bryan A
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 27, 2023 11:57 am

Worth repeating AND ReTweeting for all those Twits

Loren Wilson
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 27, 2023 6:00 pm

I think I can see a trend there.

January 27, 2023 12:08 pm

Never mentioned is the fact that California Tidelands rich in gas deposits is in trust for the People of the State of California, but never leased for new production. Also never mentioned is the fact that the Brown Family controls massive amounts of the natural gas supply and that Jerry Brown refused to allow import pipelines from Texas to be constructed when he was governor.

January 27, 2023 12:10 pm

I’ve seen some outright impossibilities in my social media places lately that I just couldn’t let pass. One person claimed he drove his EV 30 miles a day for $3.70 per month. I did some searching and found that a Tesla 3 got about 4 miles per kWh, and the average price for electricity in the US was around $0.10 per kWh. 900 mi/4 mpkWh = 225, and 225 X $0.10 = $22.50. Hardly what he claimed.

Another place had an ad for a company in West Virginia that claimed they’d installed over 900,000 kW in solar panels at one project. Since an average panel generates what, 400W, they were claiming 2,500,000 panels. Maybe they typo’d the figure and it was 900,000W, or around 2,200 panels — a lot, but at least possible.

These people count on people not being able to do the math to get them to buy into these schemes.

January 27, 2023 12:54 pm

This whole stinking mess could be solved with two actions. Number one no price guarantee for renewables and no priority for renewables.

January 27, 2023 1:36 pm

They are correct on the basic facts. Supply and demand, and right now fossil fuels are experiencing instability.

They do a good job of explaining why demand is high.

They fail absolutely at explaining why supply is so unstable. The fact that it’s our current government doing everything in it’s power to stop any and all investment in energy development. The fact that it’s feckless politicians getting paid off by billionaires to sabotage energy production. The fact that it’s big media companies pushing a narative that fossil fuels will be legislated away. The fact that it’s mentally ill people and youth whose only purpose in life is to consume while trying to force others not to.

I’d take off my tinfoil hat, but all my aluminum has been co-opted for the production of magic sun harvesters.

old cocky
Reply to  scadsobees
January 27, 2023 2:21 pm

I’d take off my tinfoil hat, but all my aluminum has been co-opted for the production of magic sun harvesters.

Ohh, you have to use real tin foil, not aluminium.

There was an MIT paper which proved that aluminium foil hats actually boost the signal strength.

Kit P
January 27, 2023 5:57 pm

Association is not causation.

First what are stable costs for fuel for making electricity? Coal is still king for stable fuel costs. Fuel cost for a nuke plant is a small fraction of operating costs.

In North America, natural gas is often a waste product of producing oil. So burning the excess to make electricity a certainly is ok. So is exporting LNG.

If older less efficient coal plants were not closed, they could brought online to mitigate the demand for natural gas.

January 28, 2023 7:16 pm

You say energy, I say people in France support Russia because of so called history books.
History isn’t written by the winners, it’s written by union teachers (mostly commies).

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