California has waged a decades-long war against sanity and the laws of physics in the name of saving the planet by pouring tons of nonstop renewable energy into the grid. After years of destroying the grid and driving up energy costs, sanity seems to have prevailed.
California lawmakers last week approved legislation backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to extend the life of Diablo Canyon, the last remaining nuclear power plant. A $1.4 billion settlement may seem expensive, but it’s a steal compared to a power outage.
Pro-nuclear activists like Michael Shellenberger, Kristin Zaitz, and Heather Hoff deserve credit for making sure that this pillar of grid reliability, along with the Nuclear Mothers, continues for another five years, hopefully longer. They prevailed against good environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which years ago pressured the state to close Diablo Canyon.
Not surprisingly, the Natural Resources Defense Council still plays a role in increasing the risk of blackouts for Californians. The agreement to close the plant “still serves as a model for an orderly and equitable transition from older power plants to less costly and more flexible clean energy sources,” said Victoria Roma, the council’s California Government Affairs Director.
By “flexible” he means unreliable. Wind and solar power are limited by weather conditions and cannot be turned up or down only on demand. The idea that renewables are “less expensive” is based on poor accounting that excludes the high cost of batteries and backup generation needed when the wind goes out or the sun goes down.
No amount of lofty rhetoric about the virtues of “going green” or apocalyptic climate propaganda can change the fact that wind and solar are not cut out to power the modern industrial societies that Europe is currently studying.
California gets about 34% of its electricity from renewable sources, mostly wind and solar. Not surprisingly, residential electricity rates in June 2022 were about 29 cents per kilowatt hour, more than double the national average. As California mandates 100% of its electricity to come from non-carbon sources by 2045, rates will only go up.
Diablo Canyon’s two reactors provide about 9% of California’s electricity. Shutting down this important source of electricity would be disastrous for residents and the economy as the state moves toward blackout.
Unfortunately, keeping Diablo Canyon running alone is not enough to save Californians from climate policies imposed by the political class and elites.
In the days following the Diablo Canyon vote, state lawmakers passed a series of climate bills with more aggressive targets to phase out fossil fuels and reduce emissions. Of course, nuclear energy has been excluded from the state’s “green” electricity mandate.
Earlier, California joined Oregon and Washington in opposing a major natural gas pipeline. Newsom wants to ban fracking, and regulators have already limited drilling permits. Don’t worry, there’s more!
California officials have banned the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, effectively mandating electric vehicles. A week later, California’s grid operator issued a “flexible warning” for another heat wave and urged residents, among other things, not to charge their electric cars between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Why? The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) warned that this is “when the grid is most stressed due to higher demand and less solar.”
Diablo Canyon has certainly provided a stable power supply to the grid as temperatures rise, but it’s not enough. Given Newsom’s zeal for a “green” transition, it seems doubtful that common sense will yield more energy policy victories during his tenure. Or until the network reaches another breaking point… which probably won’t be long.
The fact is, California needs more Diablo Canyons. But for that to happen, their leaders will have to end the war in their sanity.
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