During the recent wildfires, San Diego came perilously close to being blacked out, thanks to the vulnerability of its connections to the national power grid and the low portion of its electric power that is generated locally. The ability to fight that disaster might have been crippled if electric power had been out for any extended period.
Craig Rose of the San Diego Union-Tribune explains the technical complexities involved. But the fundamental issues are clear:
- It is very, very hard (and expensive) to build local generating capacity in an "environmentally sensitive" location like San Diego;
- It is very, very hard (and expensive) to build high capacity transmission lines in this age of BANANA ("Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone")
So San Diego is vulnerable, particularly since the obvious corridors for transmission lines (including a proposed new line) run through territory subject to wildfires.
A grown-up approach would be to balance the risks if insufficient local generating capacity with the risks of nuclear power, CO2 emissions, and the like. But somehow I suspect that the policy that San Diegans will end up with is do nothing, as courts tie up every move, and then when disaster happens, look for deep pockets to sue (in the courts, natch).