For a look at Virginia’s energy future, just take a look at California. It’s not a pretty picture. The state’s grid operator imposed short rolling blackouts twice over the weekend due to an inability to meet peak demand caused by a heat wave. More blackouts are possible later this week.
Both Virginia and California aspire to have 100% carb0n-free electric grids, but the Golden State is farther along in adopting wind and solar power. The California Energy Commission estimates that “34% of California’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2018.”
The Northam administration has signed legislation requiring Dominion Energy to generate 100% of its electricity from renewable sources (primarily solar and wind) by 2045, and Appalachian Power to meet that goal by 2050. All coal-fired plants must close by the end of 2024. California’s present is Virginia’s future just a few years out.
So, what went wrong?
Writes the Wall Street Journal:
The emergency outages, though brief to date, demonstrate the challenges California faces in making sure its transition to cleaner power doesn’t come at the expense of reliability. The state has almost eliminated coal-fired generation and has been reducing its reliance on natural gas and nuclear power in favor of renewables, which now supply more than a third of its typical energy needs.
In recent days, California has struggled to supply power in part because it relies heavily on imports from other Western states that are also experiencing higher demand during the heat wave. Its reliance on natural-gas plants that can produce power at peak times has increased, but still fell short of demand several times.
“California, in many ways, is the canary in the coal mine,” said Todd Snitchler, Chief Executive of the Electric Power Supply Association, a trade group representing power producers nationwide. “Many of the natural-gas units that some in California would like to see go away have been exactly what’s needed to keep the system operating.”
California’s blackouts this year are different from the power failures last year caused when Pacific Gas & Electric ceased distributing power on electric lines vulnerable to disruption by heavy winds. Sparks from fallen power lines had ignited multiple wildfires. This year’s blackouts stem from a statewide mismatch between electric load and generating capacity. Demand for air conditioning peaked in the late afternoon just as power output by solar farms was declining.
What does it cost Californians to bask in the benefits of such a world-class-performance electric grid? Sixteen point seven (16.7) cents per kilowatt hour — about 40% higher than the average cost in Virginia.
In other words, California’s electricity is getting more expensive and less reliable at the same time. Pretty good trick. The same policy genius that has brought California to the brink now prevails in Virginia. We’re just a few years behind the curve.
Is there any chance that Virginia will learn from California’s mistakes? Not a chance. Californians aren’t learning from California’s mistakes!
Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized the state’s grid operator and utility regulator in a letter Monday, saying that their “failure to predict these shortages is unacceptable particularly given our state’s work to combat climate change.”
“These blackouts, which occurred without prior warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting of the nation’s largest and most innovative state,” the Democratic governor said, adding that he was notified just “moments before” they started. “Grid operators were caught flat-footed,” he said.
What a joke! Lots of people predicted the rolling blackouts. California’s ideologically driven ruling class just didn’t listen! Similar predictions hold for Virginia, too. PJM, which manages the regional electric grid of which Virginia is a part, says the grid can handle up to 30% of electricity generated by intermittent power sources. Over that level, we’ll need to make massive investments in battery storage, which is totally unproven on a large scale. One thing you can count on: When Virginia experiences rolling blackouts, too, three words you’ll never hear from the greenies, is “We were wrong.”There are currently no comments highlighted.