California’s been in the midst of a prolonged heatwave, and as we’ve reported, it’s put tremendous strain on the state’s energy grid as air conditioners run round the clock to try to keep the scorching air at bay. The problem has gotten so bad that the government has issued warnings of “rolling blackouts” to its residents. Dire “flex alert” text messages were sent out en masse by grid operators Tuesday afternoon, calling on the populace to set their ACs no lower than 78 degrees and forgo the use of appliances like washing machines. Yes, this is 21st-century life in a First World country.
Blackouts were largely avoided Tuesday as utilities were just able to keep up with the demand. We’ll see whether the same holds true in the next few days. (Although there weren’t widespread blackouts in the state, there were still a few in some communities which authorities blamed on “miscommunication.” That certainly doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.)
Governor Gavin Newsom thinks he has the answer to the problem: more renewables.
.@GavinNewsom expresses gratitude to millions of Californians who conserved power & helped the state avoid rolling blackouts.
He says long term, record investments in clean technology and battery storage will help avoid such precarious situations. pic.twitter.com/viX0rscMJd
— Elex Michaelson (@Elex_Michaelson) September 7, 2022
But it wasn’t renewable energy though that helped Cali avoid blackouts so far–it was fossil fuels. Per Fox News:
“On Monday, about 47% of California’s electricity was generated by natural gas while 19% was produced by imports. Just 21% of electricity generated was produced by renewables, including solar and wind power.”
“The trend continued Wednesday with natural gas power far outpacing other power sources. (Emphasis mine.)”
Daniel Turner, founder and executive director of energy group Power The Future, is not impressed:
“This is a man-made energy failure and the blame lies squarely with President Biden, Gov. Newsom and every other proponent of this green failure. California is the poster child of the green movement and the state’s struggling families are paying the price.”
“Make no mistake, the lights will stay on in the governor’s mansion, Silicon Valley and Hollywood, but not in working-class neighborhoods because those who pushed this failure always unplug from the consequences. California’s power failures are nothing less than pure insanity that should be shunned, instead President Biden wants to export them to every state.”
It appears the only thing that staved off rolling blackouts yesterday was a frantic emergency text telling everyone to stop using power. This is not a sustainable strategy.
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) September 7, 2022
This embarrassing situation is occurring after the state recently announced it was banning the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035. My colleague Leon Satamian reported on how silly Newsom appeared just days later when officials had to ask residents to not charge their EVs. (He also reported how the car ban is likely illegal and will certainly be challenged in court.)
In another “funny” story, Cameron Arcand reports on the West Virginia coal miners who banded together to help push a tourist’s EV that had run out of its charge up a hill. Although that didn’t occur in California, it’s hard to miss the irony.
Renewable energy is a great idea, but the technology simply isn’t there yet for the country to fully turn away from fossil fuels. No state has been more aggressive in pushing “green” tech than California, and it’s paying the price. What’s getting Cali through this heatwave is not solar and wind and batteries–it’s natural gas.