If the Texas Economic Miracle Can’t Figure Out Renewables – Neither Can California

Any electrical grid relying on renewables (mainly wind turbines and solar panels) electricity prices can rise as much as 40,000% in Texas, and blackouts are inevitable. From New York to Great Britain – and now California – blackouts happen over heavy renewable usage.  

California’s conundrum is hardly prescient nor is Texas a fossil fuel powerhouse since approximately 20 percent of its electrical generation comes from wind turbines. Texas in 2018 had the massive spike in prices, and their entire reserve margin of generating capacity went away during a heat wave. California now suffers the same problems. More importantly for both, and likely California more than Texas is the push to electrify homes and entire sectors of the economy. Cost considerations alone should make California pause in this rush for decarbonization via the electrical grid. 

Federal data show a $900 a year price differential between homes that rely on natural gas for appliances, heat during the winter, and hot/warm water versus only electricity. The rush for renewables in California and Texas will lead to higher costs in coming years. Approvals for new oil and gas wells in California are up over unstable electrical grids. The Texas economic miracle could be fading if state doesn’t understand the “turmoil and true staggering costs of wind and solar” are having on consumers with limited transparency. 

Renewables are intermittent, chaotic in their production of energy to electricity, and mathematically unstable, but California and Texas both keep rushing headlong into collapsing their grids for reliable electricity. California is rapidly becoming a failed state over green energy policies. To Governor Newsome’s credit he says

“The transition away from fossil fuels has left California with a gap in reliability of its energy system. He says the state must examine its reliance on solar power and how that fits into its broader energy portfolio, report the San Francisco Chronicle’s Alexei Koseff.” 

In 2018 the California legislature passed a bill requiring the state electrical grid have “100% climate-friendly electricity by 2045.” During a recent August heat wave the state’s grid was at least 4,400 MW short of the energy to electricity needed for minimum electrical generation standards. The early summer documentary movie, “Juice” highlights how if a country doesn’t have reliable and stable electricity, they are a failed state. California is meeting that definition, and Texas is following that same standard.  

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) is responsible for California’s grid and demand to ensure constant electrical generation. Western states are no longer exporting energy to CAISO during hot summer months, which facilitates CAISO ordering utilities to institute blackouts. Texas will follow California into blackouts, and the economic renaissance will end.

Texas is the largest source of wind generation in the U.S., attracting firms like Spanish energy conglomerate Iberdrola claiming 100% Texas wind to meet reliable electricity for the Lone Star State. Iberdrola has received over $2.7 billion in U.S tax credits without producing anything of electrical value through the Production Tax Credit program.

Utilities in California and Texas are pushing to rid themselves of fossil fuels in favor of renewables, but a recent study from the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment found:

“Among more than 3,000 utilities, only about 14% prioritized growth in renewable energy over gas or coal-fired power plants, while 10% and 2% had their highest growth in gas and coal, respectively. And even among companies betting on green energy, more than half continued to grow their fossil fuel capacities at the same time.” 

California has world-class universities and is the 5th largest economy in the world – yet cannot figure out how to stabilize their electrical grid using renewables. This is why utilities are betting heavily on fossil fuels for decades ahead. Supposedly the “future is bright, emissions-free, and electric,” when actually the International Energy Agency’s Key World Energy Statistics 2020 overwhelmingly reveals a world reliant on fossil fuels for electricity and the over 6,000 products that originate from a barrel of crude oil. California is reaping what it sows for grid blackouts, and Texas isn’t far behind.

California’s “60 per cent renewable supply by 2030,” is at 33 per cent currently; 27 GW of California’s renewable supply is solar, and 7 GW is wind. Both stop working when the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing. The State’s consumers have electricity prices “60 per cent above the US average.”

Grid reliability is so bad for California, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Sunday, September 6th  issued a Section 202 (c) “emergency order to help prevent California’s already-faltering power grid from being completely overwhelmed.” This order was in response to a record-breaking heat wave over much of Southern California. 

The DOE’s order “authorizes the emergency use of stationary and portable generators, as well as auxiliary engines onboard ocean-going vessels berthed in California’s port.” All laws, regulations and permits limiting the use of emission-belching generators are suspended to meet grid requirements for the CAISO.

According to Joel Kotkin of Chapman University electrical grid blackouts and fires are the new California norm unless voters decide to break with the one-party super majority. Then why doesn’t the Legislature address grid breakdown instead of passing a bill lowering criminal penalties for adults who have sex with minors. Heterosexual and homosexual men and women – need on-demand electricity – over meddling in their private affairs. 

Economic forecasters whether in California or Texas have assumed that Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI) for renewables would be used within a fossil fuel-based system since they are heavily subsidized due to intermittent output; a “green reset based on green energy isn’t possible.” My own book “Just Green Electricity” brings clarity to a world without fossil fuels. Just the math alone of new transmission lines, amount of new renewable installations, land-use requirements, physics and engineering all spotlight the hidden cost of renewables.

Green energy is also one of the dirtiest forms of energy over mining concerns. Michael Moore’s anti-renewables documentary, Planet of the Humans highlights ecological concerns. Texas and especially California need to ditch green recovery plans in a post-COVID world, and finally admit that all forms of energy to electricity based on renewables have never powered a modern society.

Todd Royal is an independent public policy consultant focusing on the geopolitical implications of energy based in Los Angeles, California.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Comments

  1. larry s parsons says

    Planet of the Humans exposes wind and solar at its roots. i suggest everyone watch it.

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