California begs, feds respond with regulatory relief in the face of electricity shortage crisis

Donald Trump's secretary of energy is helping rescue Gavin Newsom's California from its green power folly.  California's power supply is now at third-world levels of reliability, thanks to insane regulations that require unreliable renewable power sources like wind and solar generation and the resultant closing of reliable (and much cheaper) natural gas–fired and other conventional generators.  With a major heat wave underway (it was 103 degrees yesterday afternoon where I live), the faltering power grid was so shaky that the state called for federal regulations to be suspended to allow more power sources to be used.

The Moss Landing Power plant has had its electricity generating capacity cut by more than 60%.
Photo credit: David Monniaux licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Bronson Stocking reports at

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Sunday that Sec. Dan Brouillette, in response to an urgent request from the state of California, issued a Section 202 (c) emergency order to help prevent California's already-faltering power grid from being completely overwhelmed. 

"I hereby determine that an emergency exists in California due to a shortage of electric energy, a shortage of facilities for the generation of electric energy, and other causes, and that issuance of this Order will meet the emergency and serve the public interest," reads a letter from the Assistant Secretary for Electricity Bruce Walker. 

The DOE order authorizes the emergency use of stationary and portable generators, as well as auxiliary engines on board ocean-going vessels berthed in California ports. The order suspends any laws, regulations or permits limiting the use of these power-generating machines. The order is set to expire just before midnight on September 13. 

"The Secretary concurs with the California Independent System Operator Corporation (CAISO) that a grid reliability emergency exists which demands immediate federal intervention," said DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hines in a statement.

Just a couple of days ago, California suspended its own insane regulations that would have required the closure of gas-fired power plants along the coast, as Clarice Feldman reported:

Last week I described the dilemma facing the California State Water Resources Control Board. It could demand adherence to the schedule for closing coastal gas plants which use sea water by the end of this year. If they did so, they would compound California's energy crisis; if not, the board would have to face the fact that renewable energy was insufficient for the State's needs and acknowledge that it needed these fossil fuel plants to continue operating or the state would face further blackouts.

Today it acknowledged reality, as the Los Angeles Times reports. The board allowed the plants to remain in operation for a few more years until —  they hope — chimerical renewable energy can pick up the load:

State officials threw a lifeline to four fossil fueled power plants along the Southern California coast, deciding the facilities are still needed to provide reliable electricity even as they contribute to the climate crisis.

Tuesday's vote by the State Water Resources Control Board to let the gas plants keep operating past the end of this year followed brief rolling blackouts over two evenings last month, as a heat wave caused air conditioning demand to soar, and California found itself short on electricity supplies.

Energy regulators are still investigating the causes of the power shortage. But they said allowing the coastal gas plants to stay open a few more years would help prevent more outages as California continues its transition to cleaner energy sources — an ironic solution given that climate change almost certainly exacerbated the recent heat wave.

The goal of reducing California's CO2 emissions is what motivates the push for renewable energy.  But any reductions that California might realize are utterly swamped by the increase in CO2 emissions in China and India, which are both building conventional power plants at a rapid pace.  The scores of billions of dollars that California has squandered on green schemes are utterly wasted, but in the process, necessary maintenance and improvement of the power grid itself have been starved of funding.

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