Thursday, August 20, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: California Declares State of Emergency As Blackouts Loom


Californians Face Dark, Hot Summer As Green Energy Is Sapped

In this newsletter:

1) California Declares State of Emergency As Blackouts Loom
Deadline, 18 August 2020

2) Californians Face Dark, Hot Summer As Green Energy Is Sapped
Financial Times, 18 August 2020

3) 'Forcing Americans In The Dark': Green Energy Push Blamed In California's Rolling Blackouts
The Washington Times, 18 August 2020
4) California May Knock Out Power to 5 Million People 
Bloomberg, 19 August 2020
5) ‘Gaps’ In Renewable Energy Led To Blackouts For Millions Of Californians, Gov Newsom Says
The Daily Caller, 17 August 2020
6) Chris Horner: The Year the Lights Went Out in California
The Pipeline, 18 August 2020
7) Michael Shellenberger: Democrats Say California Is Model For Climate Action But Its Blackouts Say Otherwise
Forbes, 18 August 2020

8) Steve Goreham: Green California Has The Nation's Worst Power Grid
Washington Examiner, 18 August 2020
9) Renewable Mandates Are Leading to Electricity Shortages and Price Spikes in California
Institute for Energy Research, 18 August 2020

Full details:

1) California Declares State of Emergency As Blackouts Loom
Deadline, 18 August 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom declares statewide emergency, mobilises National Guard amid fires, record heat and “imminent” rolling power outages that could hit millions

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency to help ensure the availability of vital resources to combat fires burning across the state, which have been exacerbated by the effects of the historic West Coast heat wave and sustained high winds.
“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” said Governor Newsom. “California and its federal and local partners are working in lockstep to meet the challenge and remain vigilant in the face of continued dangerous weather conditions.”
The declaration includes a mobilization of the California National Guard, to assist local agencies with the multiple ongoing emergencies.
Newsom’s order states that “there are currently hundreds of fires actively burning during these extreme weather conditions throughout California.” And “the number of fires actively burning statewide, as well as throughout other Western states, has resulted in a strain on California’s mutual aid system, making it increasingly difficult for jurisdictions to obtain the necessary in-state and out-of-state firefighting resources to respond to these fires.”
The state of emergency came not long after the non-profit corporation that controls much of California’s energy grid issued a Stage 2 Alert, saying “rotating power outages” were “imminemt.”
On a call with reporters, Steve Berberich, the CEO of the state’s Independent Service Operator, which runs the power grid indicated severe strain on the electrical system and strongly encouraged residents and businesses to conserve power. Rolling blackouts will occur if the California Independent System Operator moves to a Stage 3 emergency, he said.
Berberich said the system was expected to fall short by about 2,700 megawatts Tuesday evening. That’s the equivalent of nearly three nuclear plants and enough electricity for the needs of about about 2 million customers.

The ISO declared a Stage 2 emergency at 2 p.m. That is the last step before it orders blackouts. Berberich said power outages could begin around 4 p.m.
The state faced an even more dire prospect on Monday. It was able to avoid blackouts on Monday despite going to Stage 3 because, according to Berberich, word got out and consumers cut power usage.
Just hours earlier, President Trump claimed that Democrats were to blame for California’s blackouts on Friday and Saturday.

Full story
2) Californians Face Dark, Hot Summer As Green Energy Is Sapped
Financial Times, 18 August 2020

Millions of Californians have been warned their lights and air conditioning units could go out this week as the state plans rolling blackouts to deal with a record heatwave that has pushed the power grid to the limit.

While the US’s most populous state avoided large-scale outages on Monday, the situation brought an admission from governor Gavin Newsom that poor planning had left California ill-prepared for extremes in demand during the switch to renewable energy.

California has vastly expanded the capacity of solar power, and to a lesser extent wind power, in the past decade. The state also allowed a large nuclear power plant to shut down and has curtailed the growth of natural gas-fired generation.

The drawbacks of solar power have been evident in the past week as temperatures soared daily above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and air-conditioner use leapt in the late afternoon and early evening — just as the sun set. Neighbouring states, usually a reliable source of electricity imports, had little left to sell as they slogged through the same heatwave, said officials at the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the state’s grid.

“The load forecasts reflect the realities of climate change. It’s getting hotter,” Steve Berberich, California ISO’s chief executive, told its board at a meeting on Monday. “Unfortunately, it is near certain that we’ll be forced to ask the utilities to cut off power to millions today to balance supply and demand — today and tomorrow, and perhaps beyond.” 

Mr Berberich said his agency had warned the California Public Utilities Commission for years of inadequate power during times of maximum demand. “The situation we are in could have been avoided,” he said....

Another wildfire season is ablaze, with more than 20 active incidents reported by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. But PG&E’s outages at the weekend, which affected 220,000 customers, came at the behest of the grid operator as it tried to cope with demand, the company said.

PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric all warned customers of rotating outages while ISO urged consumers to voluntarily raise thermostats, close window blinds and keep refrigerator doors closed, among other conservation measures.

Full story (£)
3) 'Forcing Americans In The Dark': Green Energy Push Blamed In California's Rolling Blackouts
Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, 18 August 2020

California’s electricity grid picked an inconvenient moment to stumble, at least for Democrats seeking to drum up support this week for Joseph R. Biden’s $2 trillion green-energy plan at the Democratic National Convention.

The Golden State’s ambitious renewable portfolio standard is coming under fire as the state’s energy grid buckles under the strain of an oppressive heatwave, prompting rolling blackouts that have left millions without power as the state moves to replace nuclear and natural gas as energy sources with solar and wind.

California seeks to generate 60% of electricity via renewables by 2030, but Mr. Biden’s Green New Deal is even more aggressive, calling for a 100% carbon-free grid by 2035 “to meet the existential threat of climate change while creating millions of jobs with a choice to join a union.”

“If they want to know what’s going to happen in a Biden presidency with his energy plan, look to California today,” said Larry Behrens, Western director of Power the Future. “You can apply that nationwide. You can look at forms of energy that have been reliable for decades, providing not only energy but affordable energy and jobs for communities, being swept away.”

President Trump weighed in Tuesday on the blackouts with a swipe at Mr. Biden as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, both of whom have also called for powering the electrical grid with net-zero carbon emissions.

“Democrats have intentionally implemented rolling blackouts — forcing Americans in the dark,” tweeted Mr. Trump. “Democrats are unable to keep up with energy demand … Meanwhile, I gave America energy independence in fact, so much energy we could never use it all.”

He added, “The Bernie/Biden/AOC Green New Deal plan would take California’s failed policies to every American!”

Less capacity across West

California turned to rolling power outages last week as temperatures soared over 100 degrees in many locations, the first time the state has done so to combat electricity deficits since 2001. Last year’s rolling blackouts were implemented to reduce wildfire danger from electrical lines.

In 2001, however, the shortage was caused by energy-market manipulations during peak load times, while this month’s blackouts occurred when demand exceeded supply after solar-power generation shut down after sunset, combined with the loss of fossil-fuel power plants across the West.

“There are several things at play,” said Stephen Berberich, president of the California Independent System Operator [CAISO], which runs the state grid. “The first is we do have less capacity here in California. A number of units have been retired since the 2006 heat wave, and there’s also less resources across the West because many of the large units in the West have retired or are retiring, as people move off of coal.”

That means California has less ability to import electricity to cover surges in demand.

“So what we’re seeing is less capacity in California, but more importantly, less capacity across rest of the region,” Mr. Berberich said.

Heartland Institute senior fellow Anthony Watts, who runs the skeptical Watts Up With That website, said that “California is paying the price for abandoning reliable energy sources in favor of green energy sources.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered Monday an investigation into the blackouts, which he noted Friday “occurred without prior warning or enough time for preparation.”

Full story
4) California May Knock Out Power to 5 Million People 
Bloomberg, 19 August 2020
California officials warned that 5 million people could lose electricity in the latest round of rolling blackouts but said cuts could be averted if enough homes and businesses throttle back energy use.
The outages were expected to begin as early as 5 p.m. local time Tuesday, the operator of the state’s power grid said. An unrelenting heatwave gripping the state has pushed the grid to the brink of collapse in recent days and fueled wildfires from Los Angeles to Napa.

“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement declaring a statewide emergency. On Monday, he ordered an investigation into the reliability of the electric grid.

On Monday, grid operators warned they would have to cut power to as many as 10 million people, which would have been one of the largest outages in California’s history. But that crisis was averted as consumers throttled back their energy use. Advisers in the governor’s office made personal telephone calls to refineries, industries and the state’s port authorities, asking them to reduce their power consumption, said Steve Berberich, chief executive officer of the California Independent System Operator, which runs the grid.
Full story
5) ‘Gaps’ In Renewable Energy Led To Blackouts For Millions Of Californians, Gov Newsom Says
The Daily Caller, 17 August 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state’s transition away from fossil fuels is a contributing factor to the state’s rolling blackouts.

The elimination of fossil fuel products as a major form of energy production and the shift to solar power and other forms of green energy has led to what Newsom called “gaps” in the energy grid’s reliability, the Democratic governor said during a press conference Monday.

Newsom addressed the sudden loss of power many Californians experienced Saturday and Sunday during high temperatures.

“We are not backing off on that commitment,” Newsom said, referring to California’s push to transition away from oil and gas.

“In the process of the transition, in the process of shutting down, understandably, the desire and need to shut down polluting gas plants … comes the need to have more insurance, comes the need to recognize that there have been — by definition, demonstrably, in the last few days and what we expect over the next few days — gaps in terms of that reliability,” Newsom said.

The state’s energy system operator — California Independent System Operator (CAISO) — issued a Stage 3 emergency for the first time in 20 years, per a press statement CAISO posted Friday. Many citizens were required to conserve as much energy as possible while others were subject to rotating power outages due to heavy strain on the energy grid, CNN reported Monday.

“Collectively, energy regulators failed to anticipate this event and to take necessary actions to ensure reliable power to Californians,” Newsom wrote in a letter Monday to CAISO, CNN reported. “This cannot stand.”
Full story
6) Chris Horner: The Year the Lights Went Out in California
The Pipeline, 18 August 2020
“Climate,” in policy terms, means imposing energy scarcity. 

A famous definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. California energy policymakers have been monomaniacal about imposing the “climate” agenda. California is presently imposing rolling blackouts due to a shortage of supply, for the second time in less than a year. Energy crises there are not infrequent, and policymakers only press for more in the wake of the havoc this wreaks.
The insult to their own self-inflicted injuries is the demand that the rest of the country suffer under it, as well. Call it the “Green New Deal” though, like most flops, it has already been re-branded, as “Net Zero.”
The climate agenda is not an agenda that claims it will impact the climate, so let’s get that out of the way up front. “Climate,” in policy terms, means imposing energy scarcity. 
This is done through price rationing – recall a presidential candidate boasting to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket… because I’m capping greenhouse gases”? The key word wasn’t “skyrocket,” it was “necessarily.”
It’s a feature of climate policy, not a bug. Call it a way to force seniors and the poor, indeed anyone on a low or fixed income, to choose between heating and eating.
It is also done through rationing the actual physical supply of reliable sources of electricity, known as “dispatchable” sources, i.e., whose production can be sent where it’s needed, when it’s needed. The combination leads to “energy poverty” for some, and blackouts for all. 
California’s problem is elementary and one that dogs all “green”-obsessed jurisdictions. In short, each state must have the capacity at all times to produce (or arrange for the importation of) enough power to run its needs. It can dial the dispatchable power down as renewables get into the mood of pitching in, and dial it back up when they stop (say, when the wind ebbs or sun goes down). 
That’s wasteful and inefficient of course, but the agenda creates perverse incentives – build expensive redundancies to meet mandates and with a guaranteed return of investment, but don’t replace or even maintain older, working equipment. Rent-seeking utilities have supported it because the system encourages them to lobby for more new construction with a guaranteed return on investment. The more expensive and redundant, the better! 

So, California is not building dispatchable capacity, and instead is prematurely forcing closure of both nuclear and gas plants while mandating renewables and expensive battery storage, which at the scale required is not realistic. In fact, we are seeing again how grossly irresponsible it is. 
True, one small power plant failed and another was unavailable because it had been put out of service – coherent systems are designed with the understanding that a certain portion of supply will be off-line at any given time. That is, one ensures power reserves. But California has closed its margin for error in response to anti-nuclear and climate change hysterias.

Not long after the October 2019 rolling blackouts, a report commissioned by the beleaguered utility PG&E, obtained under California’s Public Records Act by the Wall Street Journal, predicted that the frequency of these backouts would double over the next 15 years and then double again in the next 15. Also in 2019, California’s Public Utilities Commission warned of shortages as early as 2021 on hot summer evenings.
The Journal editorial page gave credit it where it’s due.
Michael Shellenberger is a former candidate for governor of California who ran largely on the insanity of the state’s man-made energy policy disaster. Reminiscent of the old joke, waiter, the food was horrible, and the portions too small, he notes that “California saw its electricity prices rise six times more than the rest of the United States from 2011 to 2019, due to its huge expansion of renewables.”
This dangerous misery is inarguably the result of misguided policies. Whether this agenda is cruel by intent or merely some condition like the aforementioned definition of insanity, its practitioners show no signs of learning from their own debacles. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris each have sworn fealty to imposing this on the rest of the country.
They do so in the name of the climate, of avoiding more deaths from heat by imposing policies no one actually claims will impact the temperature – but which are shown to increase risk of death not only from heat stroke, but massively increase deaths from hypothermia. These deaths are mostly among seniors, the same demographic ravaged by reckless policy responses to Covid-19 (which also were grounded in worst-case – i.e., least likely – computer-modeled projections).
Full post
7) Michael Shellenberger: Democrats Say California Is Model For Climate Action But Its Blackouts Say Otherwise
Forbes, 18 August 2020
The underlying reason blackouts are occurring is because California lacks reliable, in-state supply. And the reason for that is California has been closing both natural gas and nuclear power plants.

At the Democratic National Convention this week, presidential and vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will make the case for spending $2 trillion, or $500 billion per year, to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels toward renewables like solar and wind. 

Biden has said he would not “tinker around the edges” with his plan. “We’re going to make historic investments that will seize the opportunity.”
In many respects, the Biden-Harris plan is even more aggressive than California’s. “The plan is very bold,” Leah Stokes of the University of California, Santa Barbara, told the Financial Times. “There is no [US] state right now that has a target this ambitious.”Recommended For You
But California’s big bet on renewables, and shunning of natural gas and nuclear, is directly responsible for the state’s blackouts and high electricity prices. 

“We will be forced today to ask utilities to cut off power to millions today, and tomorrow, and beyond,” said Stephen Berberich, the President and CEO of California’s Independent System Operator, CAISO, on a Monday morning conference call. “Demand will greatly exceed supply.”

The immediate cause of California’s blackouts is a mismatch between electricity supply and demand. Higher temperatures have led to greater demand for air conditioning. And California has less electricity, including from wind energy, available.
And yet, while California is hot, weather conditions are well within the normal range for the state’s summer weather.

The underlying reason blackouts are occurring is because California lacks reliable, in-state supply. And the reason for that is California has been closing both natural gas and nuclear power plants.

“People wonder how we made it through the heat wave of 2006,” said Berberich. “The answer is that there was a lot more generating capacity in 2006 than in 2020…. We had San Onofre [nuclear plant] of 2,200 MW, and a number of other plants, totalling thousands of MW not there today.”

For decades, California Democrats have argued that major economies can run mostly, if not entirely, on renewables. “We are in the future business in California and that means we’re in the renewables business,” said Governor Gavin Newsom in 2016, when he made the case for closing the state’s nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon. 

“The situation could have been avoided,” said Berberich. “For many years we have pointed out that there was inadequate supply after electricity from solar has left the peak. We have indicated in filing after filing after filing that procurement needed to be fixed. We have told regulators over and over that more should be contracted for. That was rebuffed. And here we are.”
Full post
8) Steve Goreham: Green California Has The Nation's Worst Power Grid
Washington Examiner, 18 August 2020

More than a million Californians suffered power blackouts last Friday evening. When high temperatures caused customer demand to exceed the power available, California electrical utilities used rotating outages to force a reduction in demand. The California grid is the worst in the nation, with green energy policies pursued by the state likely furthering reduced grid reliability.


At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s biggest utility, began shutting off power in rolling outages to force a reduction in demand. Southern California Edison also denied power to homes, beginning just before 7 p.m. Shutoffs impacted a rotating group of up to 2 million customers until 11 p.m.
The California Independent System Operator declared a Stage Three Electrical Emergency, the first such emergency since 2001. Spot electricity prices soared to more than $1,000 per megawatt-hour, more than 10 times the usual price.
In 2018, 19% of California’s electricity came from rooftop and utility-scale solar installations, the highest percentage in the nation. But by 6:30 p.m. each day, that solar output approaches zero. The state lacks enough reliable electricity generation capacity to run everyone's air conditioner during hot summer evenings.

California has the least reliable electrical power system in the United States. It isn't even close. According to data by Eaton Corporation, the Golden State leads the U.S. in power outages every year, with more than twice as many as any other state over the last decade.
The causes of power outages can be divided into four major groups. In order of importance, these are weather or downed trees, faulty equipment or human errors, unknowns, and vehicle accidents. California suffered the largest number of outages in each category in each year for 2014 through 2017.

For more than a decade, California has been closing coal and nuclear power plants. Recently, the state also began closing natural gas-fired plants as part of a continuing effort to fight global warming.

In 2006, Senate Bill 1368 established California’s Emissions Performance Standard, an effort to reduce state greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Since 2007, 11 in-state, coal-fired plants have been closed as a result, with an additional three converted to biomass fuel. California also slashed imports of electricity generated from coal plants. The Argus Cogen plant in Trona is the last remaining coal-fired plant.

California nuclear plants, though not emitters of greenhouse gases, are also being phased out. The second and third units of the San Onofre nuclear generating plant near Los Angeles ceased operation in 2013. The Diablo Canyon plant, the last nuclear plant in California, is scheduled for closure in 2025.

Driven by state efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, gas-fired plants are also being shuttered. Natural gas generating capacity has fallen by more than 10% since 2013, with additional reductions planned.

Following the blackouts last Friday night, blackouts resumed at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Power officials blamed the loss of 1,000 megawatts of wind power on the wind subsiding and the unexpected shutdown of a 470-megawatt power plant. It’s clear that the state does not have enough reliable baseload power as backup for intermittent wind and solar energy.
The problem of California’s poor electric reliability will likely get worse. On Sept. 10, 2018, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 100, committing California to obtain 100% of its electricity from “clean energy sources” by 2045. Replacement of coal, nuclear, and natural gas generators with wind and solar will continue to erode grid reliability.

As part of global warming efforts, officials want all citizens to switch their natural gas stoves and furnaces to electric models. More than 30 California cities have enacted bans on gas appliances, including the major cities of San Francisco and San Jose. Almost 10% of the state population now lives in an area covered by restrictions against gas appliances in new residential construction.

California also wants residents to transition from gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and trucks to plug-in electric models. So, when those blackouts occur in the future, not only will your lights and air conditioners fail, but you won’t be able to cook your food or drive your car either.

California sacrificed reliable electrical power on the altar of the fight against global warming. There is no evidence that state efforts will have the slightest effect on global temperatures, but they will be great for candle and flashlight sales.
9) Renewable Mandates Are Leading to Electricity Shortages and Price Spikes in California
Institute for Energy Research, 18 August 2020

California does it again. In 2001, California experienced rolling blackouts due to energy market manipulation by energy wholesalers and a shortage of pipelines. Now, Californians are again facing rolling blackouts, and this time it is due to California’s forced reliance on solar and wind power. Due to a severe heatwave and without the wind blowing and the sun shining, California’s day-ahead electricity prices spiked at above $1000 per megawatt-hour on August 14.
California’s renewable portfolio standard mandates that 60 percent of its electricity must come from renewable energy (mainly wind and solar power) by 2030.  Now, residents are asked to conserve electricity to keep the power on—something most other states do not have to endure. This should be a warning to America about the risks of Biden’s Clean Energy Standard that would require 62 percent of our electricity which is now produced from natural gas and coal to come from non-carbon sources, which would primarily be wind and solar power.

The California Independent System Operator, which manages the power grid, declared an emergency shortly after 6:30 p.m. on August 14 and directed utilities around the state to decrease their power loads. Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility, needed to turn off power to about 200,000 to 250,000 customers in rotating outages for about an hour at a time. Other utilities were told to do the same, affecting up to 4 million people.

The emergency declaration ended just before 10 p.m. The requirement to shed load resulted from temperatures hitting triple digits in many areas, resulting in higher air conditioning use. In addition, cloudy weather from the remnants of a tropical weather system reduced power generation from solar plants. California’s solar mandates are making the state much more reliant on the weather for electricity production.
California’s Anti-fossil Fuel Policies
California generally produces a surplus of solar energy during the day and when that happens, other power generators are ordered to cut back their production so that the electric grid is not overloaded. On Friday and Saturday, August 14 and 15, about 1,000 megawatt-hours were curtailed—enough to power 30,000 homes. This curtailment resulted in supply shortages as solar energy output plunged at the end of the day with the electricity demand remaining high.

Many of California’s natural gas and nuclear plants have had to shut down because they cannot compete with heavily subsidized renewable energy. For example, a 10-year-old natural gas power plant in California’s Inland Empire is being prematurely shuttered this year despite being built to operate for forty or more years. Also, California’s state water regulations are forcing the shutdown of natural gas plants along the coast that can quickly ramp up generation during peak demand periods or when solar power plunges. Because of policies promulgated by California’s anti-fossil energy politicians, Californians are paying for new renewable power when they already have natural gas capacity readily available to meet demand 24/7.

Because the spot price for power in the summer can increase more than 30-fold from noon to dusk, California’s utilities are forced to build expensive batteries to store solar energy that can be released in the evening, which will cost Californians even higher electricity prices, despite its prices already being one of the highest in the country. Utilities do not mind this result because new capital investment necessitated by government actions ultimately means higher prices for consumers and higher profits for utilities.

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The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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