California Governor realizes the state needs more electricity

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

A funny thing happened over the weekend. Or at least it might have been funny if it weren’t such a potentially dangerous situation. Out in California, they’ve been hit with the latest blistering heatwave (which tends to happen in deserts from time to time) and that’s led to not only more wildfires but a big surge in electricity demand. But thanks to regulations and rules pushing the state to be more dependent on renewable energy, California’s grid isn’t what it once was. Therefore, probably with a bit of personal embarrassment, Governor Gavin Newsom was forced to pick up his pen and sign some orders allowing a bit more juice to flow. (KRON News)

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Saturday that will free up additional energy capacity for the state’s power grid in response to the heatwave in the Golden State and the growing wildfire in southern Oregon that is impacting transmission lines used to import energy to California.

Newsom’s order will allow the emergency use of auxiliary ship engines to relieve pressure on California’s electric grid. This follows his emergency proclamation Friday which suspends certain permitting requirements to enable to use of backup power generation.

A Flex Alert was lifted Saturday night, the California Independent System Operator’s (Cal ISO) request for California residents and businesses to “flex their power” by conserving as much electricity as possible between 4 and 9 p.m.

Based on some additional statements released by the Governor’s office, it seems that at least one lesson has been learned over the past couple of years. His spokesperson was quick to point out that the state’s energy agencies had “taken swift action to ensure grid reliability this summer.”

Why is that important? Because it appears that Newsom is now well aware that the liberal voters in his state love to hear speeches about green energy and carbon output reductions. They even seem to approve of bills demonstrating the state’s commitment to renewable energy resources. But when the lights suddenly go out for tens of thousands of people, all of these green energy concerns become strictly hypothetical and people want to know when the power is coming back on so they can turn on their air conditioning, prepare their meals and do everything else that requires electricity. Nobody is going to quietly sit sweating in the dark, consoling themselves that it’s all just fine as long as the natural gas plants are being shut down.

Another sign of this attitude adjustment came with the complete lack of complaints about how Newsom kept the lights on. One part of the order authorized the use of auxiliary ship engines to pump electricity onto the grid. I’ll give you one quick hint about that action. Those engines don’t run on solar or wind, folks. The other “backup power generation” that was authorized wasn’t renewable either. It involves nasty old natural gas. (Which is still one of the cleanest and cheapest energy sources available, though they don’t want to admit it.)

That wildfire up north was also impacting California’s ability to import electricity from Oregon as needed. But that’s okay. There are other lines available to purchase extra electricity from Nevada and Arizona. But guess how they generate a lot of their energy so it’s available to sell to the Golden State. I’ll leave you to guess for yourself, but it sort of rhymes with “hostile mules.”

California continues to charge forward with mandates to require renewable energy sources and ban the sale of non-electric vehicles. But as we’re seeing year after year, they are ordering these changes without having a plan to generate the vast amount of electricity it takes to run a state of that size, particularly during a heatwave. I’d wish them luck, but I somehow doubt they would appreciate it.