L A Times Electric Bill Increase Editorial Conceals California’s Incompetent Energy & Climate Policies that Hugely Drive-Up Costs

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

The L A Times published yet another incredibly misleading editorial trying to blame California electric utilities for the states skyrocketing electricity cost increases while concealing decades of Democrat driven incompetent state government energy and climate policies that are responsible for driving up California’s out of control energy and electricity costs.

The state government first started meddling in the state’s electricity business in 1999 with the grand “deregulation” debacle that promised lower energy prices but instead resulted   in consumers seeing over $40 billion dollars for increased electricity costs in 2000 and 2001. 

Additionally, $42 billion dollars in new firm generation dispatchable capacity contracts (renewables are not generation capacity dispatchable and cannot meet changing system load demand leading to an unreliable and costly electric system) over the next ten years all because the states politicians can’t stop creating incompetent politically contrived schemes that are systematically destroying the state’s energy system.

In 2000 and 2001 Californians experienced 45 days of voluntary and involuntary load shedding (turning power off for various customer groups) including 10 days of required involuntary rolling blackouts totaling 42 hours of customers being in the dark.  

The states politicians learned nothing from the “deregulation” debacle and in 2006 moved on to yet another politically contrived and globally irrelevant scheme to “fight climate change” that continues their legacy of colossal incompetence in interfering with the state’s electric business while hugely increasing energy costs and destroying the state’s electric system reliability.

Since 2006 the state has spent many tens of billions of dollars on subsidies and tax assessments to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while mandating use of non-dispatchable and unreliable renewable energy that has jeopardized the state’s ability to meet electric load demand that has hugely increased costs for generation needed to keep the lights on.

Since 2006 the state has reduced its CO2 emissions by about 122 million metric tons which sounds like a lot except when you compare this amount to the developing nations (led by coal burning China and India) increased CO2 emissions during this period of 6,252 million metric tons an amount more than 5,100% times greater than the states tiny, irrelevant and costly CO2 reduction.

California is not “fighting climate change” nor are the U.S., EU, and U.K. because the developing nations (led by China and India) totally dominate global energy use (accounting for 62% of all global energy use) and emissions (accounting for 67% of all global emissions) with their presently existing and yearly increasing growth making actions by the developed nations to reduce these measures globally irrelevant.   

Because of its ridiculous attempt to rely on unreliable renewables California imports more electricity into the state than any other state in the U.S. with about 31% of the states total 2021 electricity being imported from other states as shown below.

Additionally, the state obtains more than 50% of instate generation (37.9% of its total electricity) from natural gas.

However, the state has to import more than 90% of its natural gas from outside California using interstate pipelines meaning that in reality the state is importing more than 2/3rds (30.9% electricity import plus 37.9% from natural gas plants using imported natural gas) of its total yearly electricity use.

The state has also failed to address the reliability and cost control of its petroleum use by now relying upon oil imports for more than 71% of its petroleum needs including 56% from foreign suppliers as shown below.

The need to import huge amounts of natural gas, petroleum, and electricity from outside the state makes California vulnerable to large market swings brought about by global and national upsets in these markets. 

Yet the state continues to avoid developing and is in fact shutting down its own energy resources (as part of its irrelevant and flawed “fighting climate change” propaganda campaign) making it even more vulnerable to natural gas, petroleum, and electricity price upsets in the future.  

The results of the state’s ill-conceived government interventions into the energy business have ballooned the states average electricity price costs upward by over 224% since 1999 according to EIA energy price data updated through 2021.

California has increased average electricity prices between the 1999 and 2021 period by more than 330% times greater than the U.S. average, more than 400% times greater than in Florida and 440% times greater than have occurred in Texas.

California now has the highest average electricity prices in the Continental United States. 

Despite this dismal performance our clueless and arrogant governor struts around falsely hyping his superiority over these other states governors while the L A Times editorial gurus bury their heads in the sand concealing the state’s energy cost and reliability failures that are responsible for the state’s huge energy cost increases.

The Times then erroneously claims that the huge cost increases in California’s electricity are the fault of the electric utilities and proposes yet more socialist government schemes to pay for these costs that are the result of the states long standing and incompetent meddling in the energy business. 

This L A Times editorial is completely incompetent, conceals the real cause of the state’s electricity cost and reliability issues and then proposes further socialist meddling by government as its “solution” for the debacle that the government created by its incompetent meddling in the first place. 

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Ed Reid
April 30, 2023 11:15 am

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”, Groucho Marx

Perhaps Marx’ quote now applies to journalism in general and the LAT is particular.

April 30, 2023 11:25 am

Not sure who copied who, but California energy policy looks a lot like Mexico. Getting a free ride from the press makes it much worse for the general public to sort it out.

April 30, 2023 11:38 am

the real cause of the state’s electricity cost and reliability issues and then proposes further socialist meddling by government as its “solution” for the debacle that the government created by its incompetent meddling in the first place

As I’ve always said, to socialists, the solution to every problem is more government, even when the cause of the problem was government itself.

Reply to  MarkW
April 30, 2023 1:57 pm

Their undying faith in government “solutions” in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is really quite quaint.

B Zipperer
Reply to  honestyrus
April 30, 2023 5:10 pm

MarkW & Honestyrus:
And ironically, the more the gov screws things up, the more the citizens in their desperation give more power to that same government to fix things. Insanity.

It doesnot add up
April 30, 2023 11:40 am

This could be better written:

California has increased average electricity prices between the 1999 and 2021 period by more than 330% times greater than the U.S. average, more than 400% times greater than in Florida and 440% times greater than have occurred in Texas.

The following might be consistent with it: Prices in California have gone from 5¢/kWh in 1999 to 8.3¢/kWh in 2021 while average prices in the US have gone from 10¢/kWh to 11¢/kWh, making the increase of 3.3¢/kWh 330% times greater than 1¢/kWh. Though you might quibble that percentage increases might make the California price 9.3¢/kWh. Much better to quote the naked numbers.


tells me that in 2021 the average price in Ca. was 19.65¢/kWh compared with the average for the US of 11.10¢/kWh. I can get the 1999 figures here:


showing a US average of 6.64¢/kWh and a figure for Ca.of 8.75¢/kWh.

I quoted average prices for all customers, not just residential.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  It doesnot add up
April 30, 2023 12:41 pm

Average prices mean nothing. During peak use CA electricity here on the Central Coast, according to my PG&E statement is $0.32/kwh.

Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
April 30, 2023 12:56 pm

No kidding, anything over 100 kwh in a month was 20 cents back in 2000.

Reply to  missoulamike
April 30, 2023 12:57 pm

Blackouts were included free of charge…..

John in Oz
Reply to  It doesnot add up
April 30, 2023 6:05 pm

As is oft spoken in the Monty Python 4 Yorkshiremen skit – “Luxury”

Try South Australian prices, the Oz state with the most ‘green’ power that is supposedly the cheapest form of energy supply available (now that the coal-fired generators have been blown up):

1AM to 6AM – 24.451c/kWh (off-peak)
10AM to 3PM – 19.682c/kWh (shoulder when solar is available)
All other times – 40.701c/kWh (peak)
Supply charge – 89.2c/day

Solar feed-in – 5c/kWh (extremely generous of them)

It doesnot add up
Reply to  John in Oz
May 1, 2023 6:42 am

Multiply by 2/3rds to get USD prices.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
May 1, 2023 8:01 am

I don’t see where you are getting 2021 prices of 8.3 cents per kWh in California. Your own EIA data is showing far, far higher prices in California even back in 2009 in all sectors much less the overall average.

Last edited 29 days ago by c1ue
April 30, 2023 11:41 am

While the regulatory changes of 1999 were sold as “deregulation”, it was never anything more than a change in the regulatory regime. How can “deregulation” result in more pages of regulations than before?

April 30, 2023 11:47 am

‘This L A Times editorial is completely incompetent…’

That depends on their intention.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Disputin
April 30, 2023 12:56 pm

If they fooled anybody it was pretty competent propaganda.

Joseph Zorzin
April 30, 2023 12:02 pm

Will anyone at the Times read this?

David Wojick
April 30, 2023 12:08 pm

Electricity comes from walls and prices come from bills, right? California energy economics. Stupider than that one cannot get.

Ill Tempered Klavier
April 30, 2023 12:16 pm

” ” Americans are crazy: People will tell you that any where you go in the world. Most will, when pressed, admit to some justification for that, but point to California as the locus of the infection…”

Robert A. Heilein, “And He Built a Crooked House”

quoted from memory

Tom Halla
Reply to  Ill Tempered Klavier
April 30, 2023 1:58 pm

sp: Heinlein

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Ill Tempered Klavier
April 30, 2023 7:54 pm

G’Day Ill Tempered Klavier,

“And He Built a Crooked House”

I always wondered about that story. Disney World (CA), 1967. A ‘House Of The Future’. A cube at ground level, the next ‘floor’ – a central cube with four cubes jutting out, then two more cubes (floors) above that.

Did Walt borrow the idea from Bob, or vice versa?

(Just ran the story title at DuckDuckGo. It’s available as a 12 page PDF.)

Last edited 29 days ago by Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Tombstone Gabby
May 1, 2023 8:25 am

Published in 1941, so Disney didn’t come up with it.

Ill Tempered Klavier
Reply to  Ill Tempered Klavier
May 1, 2023 12:51 pm

Re: sp: oops. Can I blame it on dictating to Max Typo or do I have to fall back on being in too big a hurry to kick my boy friend out before my husband got home 😉

Re: “And He Built a Crooked House” G’Day Tombstone Gabby,

I treasure the beginning of that story because so many of the things I think are truly whacked out about what’s going on in the world in general and the U.S. in particular seem to emanate from the “Golden State.” The end of the story, one of Heinlein’s few end of the world stories and a truly horrific one at that, can be seen as poetic justice in a way.

The notion of a house in the form of a developed tessaract, I don’t recall seeing in anything I’ve read from before it was published. That brings up the which was chicken and which the egg question: I’ve seen him credited/blamed with being the first and/or best to explore several notions from waterbeds to the the remote manipulators featured in “Waldo.” I think there were remote manipulators in use to handle radioactives before he wrote that story though they were a pale shadow of Waldo’s gadgets. And yes, I have a “Roomba” and it’s got a ways to go to match “Hired Girl” ( see “The Door Into Summer” )

We are, unfortunately, still in “The Crazy Years,” and have a ways to go before the birth of the first mature human culture. I hope I live to see it but the odds is agin me.

Cheers 🙂

April 30, 2023 12:33 pm

The LAT will make a great role model for chat AI learning of distortion, deflection, and lies in support of agendas. So beware of LATCHAT. I suppose the one good thing about the situation is that predictable bias can displace all the humans enabling this pattern. All we need now is facts about the money trails. Will LATCHAT be forthcoming in that or send up smoke and error codes?

April 30, 2023 12:35 pm

I can’t understand how producing your own energy and using it is dirty but using energy someone else produced isn’t. These people are liars, cheats and dummies.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Bob
May 2, 2023 3:05 pm

Ironically, using imported energy INCREASES EMISSIONS. Not that emissions matter, because they don’t.

But if your virtue signaling reason for refusing to develop your own, in-state mineral resources is to “reduce” emissions, it’s pretty comical. 🤣

Rud Istvan
April 30, 2023 12:51 pm

Yup. Greedy PGE caused all those price increases even though PGE went bankrupt in 2019. LA Times appears memory impaired.

April 30, 2023 1:09 pm

House gas prices increased by over 4 times earlier this year in California. They claimed it was because spot gas cost went up by that amount and CA failed to keep its’ reserve stocked enough to fall back on. Total BS and a complete lie. Gas did not increase by even close to that amount and there’s no way to verify the reserve status. Despite being supposedly controlled by the government the Gas company was allowed to make that increase without the required vote and oversight. Southern California was the only region in the US that was hit with this increase. Incompetence, corruption, or both? Nothing was ever done to find out what really happened and it will soon be forgotten. Gas company officials increased their pay by 20% during this period as well. Grrrrrrr………….

April 30, 2023 1:55 pm

The CA government is very competent… at deflecting blame for their failures onto others. Doesn’t matter is that’s Big Oil, PG&E et al, the Feds, Trump, Putin, Xi, the weather, gravity or somebody/something else.

Tom Halla
April 30, 2023 2:02 pm

This has gone beyond stupidity, to malice. I do believe the Greens intend to blow up the economy, as it is insufficiently both socialist and green enough.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 30, 2023 4:52 pm

“Hanlon’s razor is an adage or rule of thumb that states, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Except in the case of politics?

B Zipperer
Reply to  Ex-KaliforniaKook
April 30, 2023 5:21 pm

Note the corollary to Hanlon: malice & incompetence are not mutually exclusive.

Maybe the that’s the politician category?

Reply to  Ex-KaliforniaKook
May 1, 2023 8:54 am

Stupidity would still get things right by accident sometimes. When you see a consistent pattern, it becomes more likely that it’s malice.

April 30, 2023 2:48 pm

There are some good reasons why rates are so high there. Labor costs more, permitting in CA is ridiculous, lots of land is completely off limits because it is Parks or Forest land. The per capita electricity consumption is low due to the mild climate – less energy gets sold per unit of infrastructure, so rates are higher.

There are also some non-climate reasons that aren’t straight up incompetence. CA forces utilities to fund all sort of programs – energy efficiency programs, equity programs, electrification programs, EV “make ready” where the utility pays for much of the equipment to charge EVs then charges all rate payers to pay for it.

And there are some straight up dumb reasons. CA’s big utilities are comically inefficient. The unions run strong. There are useless people and layers of incompetent middle management everywhere. I supervised a group of engineers there with high pay, no useful skills, bad attitudes, and who ultimately produced a work product that nobody actually used for anything.

Rud Istvan
April 30, 2023 3:11 pm

A more general comment about California. It is not only their absurd self inflicted electricity prices now, driving people out. They just ‘voted’ to ban diesel freight locomotives and diesel class 8 trucks in 2035. That means no freight in, no freight out. Means nobody will be left in CA except the self sufficient few in rural areas.
Navy will have to abandon San Diego. LA and San Fransisco will shut down, not just their ports, the cities themselves.

Of course, as the 2035 date grows closer, they will (perhaps) have to reverse their lunacy.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 30, 2023 4:01 pm

No, California voters did NOT vote for those idiot restrictions. That set of rules came from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), made up of faceless, nameless, un-accountable political appointees. “Democracy” in action.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 2, 2023 3:13 pm

Democratic party “democracy” aka tyranny.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 30, 2023 8:40 pm

 Will trucks stop in adjacent states and change out the diesel for electric rigs?
Or, perhaps, electric trains will replace trucks.
I do know a person that claims big rigs will be gone in the not-too-distant future.
Full disclosure: I once visited California.  

Reply to  John Hultquist
May 1, 2023 2:41 am

‘I once visited California

I did too – once. It was LAX, allegedly a major airport hub. Two 747s arrived from opposite directions – and completely overwhelmed their systems. Both flights were going on, one to London and the other, ours, to Sydney. Since both flights were going out of the US, one might have though that the sensible thing to do was keep the passengers airside? Oh no, we all had to go through immigration, nearly all of whom were absent.

Such experiences mark one!

Last edited 29 days ago by Disputin
It doesnot add up
Reply to  Disputin
May 1, 2023 6:53 am

I had visions of one plane landing North-South while the other landed South-North! In days gone by you needed a transit visa to change planes in the US or if stopping en route. Probably helped motivate the Quantas route London-Bermuda-Nassau or Kingston-Mexico City-Acapulco (for a sea level takeoff for the long trans Pacific leg)-Papeete-Nandi-Sydney. It was popular for those taking a round the world ticket, stopping off along the way.

Bob Johnston
April 30, 2023 3:16 pm

This sort of stupidity is needed as a beacon to show the rest of the country how ridiculous renewable schemes are. Between New York and California I don’t know which state will hit rock bottom first but it’s going to be glorious when the general population figures out how dumb this nonsense is.

April 30, 2023 3:27 pm

Aren’t electrical utility prices regulated to some degree?

Reply to  Tom.1
April 30, 2023 10:34 pm

ALL electric rates and programs are approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, all appointed by the Governor.

April 30, 2023 3:53 pm

The governor needs to get on his plane; get to China and invite them to build some wind farms off the coast so young Californians can also support the aged care in China. I expect that was the reason for the Victorian Premier’s recent visit to China.

Having foreign countries owning essential services is the best way to impoverish the next generation.

Reply to  RickWill
April 30, 2023 10:37 pm

Already a done deal. Offshore windmills outside of shorebased visual sight are already being designed.

April 30, 2023 4:31 pm

Wanted: A very clever consultant to tell us how to get over the mounting fallacy of composition problem with solar dumping on the grid as this is a very bad look for nut zero-
NT solar farms still sitting idle after three years, now a consultant has been called in | RenewEconomy
Help! It’s giving the carpetbagging game away.

Nick Stokes
April 30, 2023 5:44 pm

“California has increased average electricity prices between the 1999 and 2021 period by more than 330% times greater than the U.S. average, more than 400% times greater than in Florida and 440% times greater than have occurred in Texas.”

Not sure what you are tryin to prove here. The facts:

In 2022, Texas generated 136,118 gigawatt-hours from wind and utility-scale solar, most of it from wind. The runner-up was California with 52,927 gigawatt-hours, most of it from utility-scale solar, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 30, 2023 5:49 pm

And the more wind & solar comes on stream, the more the poor punters at the bottom of the totem pole pay.

Is there one grid in the world where consumer bills for their electricity consumption have gone down since w&s were imposed on their supply formulae?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Mr.
April 30, 2023 6:41 pm

As just quoted, Texas has by far the most w&s of US states. And Larry tells us that increases (if any) were much less than the US average.

Last edited 29 days ago by Nick Stokes
Tom in Florida
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 1, 2023 4:19 am

Ahh, the rest of the story left out by our boy Nick (same source):

“But Texas is also the country’s leader in overall electricity generation, and it’s the leader in generation from gas and coal, so the total for wind and solar, while gigantic, was just 26 percent of the total from all sources.”

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 1, 2023 6:59 am

Not sure what you are trying to prove here. Fact is, Californian electricity provision is in a complete mess, heavily dependent on imports, with transmission infrastructure that is creaking, and a determination to shut down dispatchable capacity. Its policy on storage is a joke, refusing to consider pumped storage.

April 30, 2023 10:20 pm

People who do not live in California do not realize that the State Legislature, which writes ALL the laws in the state, has been exclusively under democrat control since 1959. The 4 largest counties in Southern California out of 58 determine ALL statewide election results, due to the population imbalance. The democrats own all policy. There are times that Californian’s get sick of it as with Prop 19 and the Gray Davis recall, but that doesn’t happen very often. Most people tired of it vote with their feet. In essence, California is more of a 4 county state than a one party state.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  doonman
May 1, 2023 4:21 am

They have allowed ballot harvesting during that time. A sure way to dirty trick your way into and retaining power.

Tom in Florida
May 1, 2023 4:33 am

Florida Power & Light (FPL) has just received approval for a rate DECREASE for the rest of the year. The decrease comes due to the natural gas prices not as high as anticipated and the repairs needed from Hurricane Ian have been covered.

May 1, 2023 7:54 am

It gets better: while ~25% of California electricity was generated from wind and solar (~71 million megawatt-hours) – nearly 1/3 of that (22 million MWh = ~31%) was imported.
Another 1/25th was curtailed (i.e. surplus to any possible use and paid to be thrown away). That’s about 3 million megawatt-hours of electricity or about 1/2 of the city of San Francisco’s annual electricity consumption: https://thundersaidenergy.com/downloads/california-curtailment-key-numbers-from-2021/

May 1, 2023 8:23 am

In the late 1990s, part of California’s deregulation was the decoupling of generation from distribution, forcing their power companies (mainly Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison) to sell off generating assets. At the time, I worked for a consulting subsidiary of Duke Energy, a North Carolina based utility, who purchased three power plants (Moss Landing Power Plant near Monterey; Morro Bay Power Plant at Morro Bay; and South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista on San Diego Bay). At the time, Duke had perfected the process of siting, licensing, design, construction and startup of combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants, far more efficient than conventional plants. They were installing CCGTs all over the U.S. They immediately began designs for additions or replacement of these three California plants with CCGT units, which are lower cost, higher efficiency, lower emissions, and smaller physical and environmental footprint. What is not to like?

However, this was California, and it soon became evident that anti-intellectual environmentalist forces and government regulators in the state would not allow sensible, reliable energy. Within a short time, Duke sold off the assets and pulled out of the state.

Duke managed to install two 530 MW CCGT units at Moss landing, and added to the existing thermal units, total generation capacity sat at 2,560 MW, the largest in California. Soon afterward, Duke gave up and sold the plant in 2006. The conventional generation units were shuttered in 2016. Today, the owner, Dynegy, is on the verge of shutting down the CCGT units because they are economically disadvantaged by policies favoring wind and solar. The site is being proposed as a battery storage facility since it already has grid connections.

The 650 MW Morro Bay Power Plant was not so fortunate. CCGT permits were never allowed, and Duke sold it to Dynegy, but they were only allowed to operate the plant at 5% capacity factor as a backup to intermittent ruinables. Dynegy eventually closed the plant in 2014, but they refused to demolish the plant. It still sits as a mute testimony to the industry that once reliably powered California. Its three iconic 450’ tall stacks are landmarks in this sleepy coastal town, but plans are to take them down, paid for by the city of Morro Bay.

The 728.9 MW South Bay Power Plant also succumbed to California insanity and could not be upgraded to CCGT, so it was likewise sold off to Dynegy. In 2011, the plant was decommissioned, and in 2012 it was imploded and wiped from the face of the earth.

So there went close to 4,000 MW of reliable generating capacity and the potential for more at just these three sites. Way to go, California!

Reply to  pflashgordon
May 1, 2023 3:42 pm

Moss Lading has already installed batteries, the largest storage facility in the nation. They’ve already had battery fires too, and closed down State highway 1 for a day and issued shelter in place directives in Moss Landing because of toxic smoke. Greenies were noticably silent even though the facility is next door to Elkhorn Slough, a breeding ground and nursery for endangered sea otters.

Reply to  doonman
May 3, 2023 10:05 am

It gets better. I heard directly from an executive of the company that owns it (Calpine I think it was) that there have been issues recharging the battery farm because of transmission line congestion..

Larry Hamlin
Reply to  pflashgordon
May 2, 2023 5:04 pm

Good example of the idiocy of Democrat California politicians. These idiots seem to believe that giving priority through must take renewable generation mandates while forcing reliable, cost effective and efficient CCGT’s to shutdown until their capacity is needed is to keep the lights is the right way to operate an effective electric power system. This stupidity is simply mind boggling.

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