Fixing California’s Electrical Grid –
California is the nation’s largest importer of electricity and relies on electricity mainly from Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona. Residents and businesses have been forced to deal with rolling blackouts on top of skyrocketing prices. The primary reason for this is that California power producers haven’t invested — and won’t invest — in building excess power capacity. It simply does not make economic sense for them to do so. This means that California must depend on power generation from other states.
To make matters worse, California will soon lose several major sources of electricity: the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and at least four coastal natural gas power plants. Combined, nuclear power and natural gas provide over 42% of the total electricity consumed in California. However, California elected officials have decided that greenhouse gas emissions should be the primary drivers of formulating energy policy. California’s push for this “visionary policy” is premised on climate change being the greatest threat to humankind.
Whether or not this is the case, trying to further decrease California’s greenhouse gas emissions will not change global temperatures. And continuing to try to do is a very costly system, not just in terms of dollars, but also in terms of how Californians live their daily lives. Focusing energy policy on one aspect – greenhouse gas emissions – ignores things like reliability, affordability, consumer access and energy poverty. These are the sort of things that SHOULD be determining California’s energy policy.
Climate policies that are very expensive and have no climate benefit put a heavy burden on the consumer. California’s electricity grid leans on customers to do more instead of the State generating the power to meet current and future demand. California’s power grid consumes more than 50 gigawatts of power per day. To generate that kind of power, California would need to build seven to eight times as much solar and wind power. This would require covering tens of thousands of square miles with solar panels and wind turbines.
So, what does California need to do? In short, build more power plants. This includes the continued development of renewable resources supported by more transmission infrastructure to bring that power to population centers. But, it also means building small modular nuclear reactors, more energy storage, and even more natural gas plants.