With Blackouts Looming, California Should Go Nuclear

Last August, after rolling blackouts hit California during a heat wave, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an investigation.

The report on the root causes of the August blackouts was completed in January. The problem was caused by lack of “resource adequacy” and “planning.” The people making decisions about how much power would be needed in California were routinely underestimating the demand for electricity.

It’s happening again. Summer, it turns out, was unexpected.

The great thing about underestimating California’s power needs is that everybody can pretend the state can run on solar and wind energy, thereby feeling good that we’re doing something to stop climate change. Unmentioned is that California now imports more electricity than any other state, and how that power is generated is somebody else’s problem.

Thanks to California’s reliance on imported electricity, a forest fire in Oregon last weekend almost caused the California power grid to fail again and cause blackouts. On Thursday afternoon, California power officials frantically ordered another Flex Alert, the third of the summer. The weather was hot, and air conditioners would be running. And then, unexpectedly, the sun would go down.

That’s exactly the kind of unforeseen incident that caused rolling blackouts last August. Solar farms stopped generating electricity just when everybody needed it most.

Thankfully, California still has some gas-fired power plants left over from the “before times” when people solved problems instead of worshipping them. Three plants in Long Beach, Oxnard and Redondo Beach were supposed to be closed last year but somebody thought better of it after last summer’s events.

Unfortunately, the plants were having a bit of mechanical trouble — perhaps maintenance isn’t a priority for facilities that are expected to be shut down —a nd on Thursday afternoon they could only manage to run at about one-third of their capacity.

California sent firefighters to Oregon to help battle the inferno that was coming dangerously close to the transmission lines bringing us the electricity our solar farms refused to generate after dark.

Faced with the very real risk of widespread power outages less than 90 days before a recall election, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation that allowed fossil fuel plants to run even if they produced more air pollution than regulators allowed. Limits on portable generators were lifted, too.

The fire in Oregon did knock out the transmission lines, and suddenly California was without 4,000 megawatts of imported electricity to bail us out of the idiotic decisions we have made to mandate more and more renewable energy, but to count only wind and solar, not nuclear or hydro power, as “renewable.”

The state’s grid operators did what they could do, and cranked up what they could crank up, but they had to declare a Stage 2 emergency and tell the state’s large private utility companies to get ready to implement rolling blackouts.

We squeaked by this time, because the gas-fired plants and the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant kept running.

Like the gas-fired plants, the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is set to be closed down. But unlike the gas-fired plants, the Diablo Canyon plant does not produce greenhouse gases. Nuclear power does not contribute to global warming.

Over the weekend, former Governor Jerry Brown was interviewed by NBC’s Conan Nolan, who asked Brown about climate change. Brown once again described, in the usual ghoulish terms, how the climate will kill us all in “decades” if we don’t stop using fossil fuels.

“If our existence is on the line,” Nolan asked, “why not nuclear?”

The former governor described “a whole complexity” involving federal regulatory authorities, terrorists learning to make nuclear bombs, and dangerous accidents with radioactive waste. “Now having said all that, the risk of climate change is existential and is a horror,” he said, “so there are a lot of people that think we should even expand, significantly, the nuclear power plants we have. I can’t, honestly, I can’t tell you who’s right, but I can tell you some very bright people are on both sides.”

You’d better hope they’re bright enough to read by, because California’s idiotic policies are turning out the lights.

This article was originally published by the OC Register.

Comments

  1. Governor Newsom, hopefully soon to be recalled, prefers breezes and sunshine for intermittent electricity!

  2. John the Patriot says

    This is what happens folks when you elect Democrats. They always seem to know so much more than we do and they always know what is best for us! When they “fix” a problem they always make it worse and create more problems to go along with it.

  3. Richard Cathcart says

    Reactivation of EXISTING gas-powered electricity generation facilities–such as the plant at Moss Landing in Central California coast can tide us over the coming hydropower shutdowns. Building new plants takes years even when ALL governmental restrictions, law-suits etc. are absent. So, sensing the palpable silence by Democrat Party dummkopfs’, I suspect several factors dominant their thinking: (1) as always, they have not solutions, mere artistic status quo maintainers; (2) the Coastal Elitist’s strongest desire is to rid the State of as many deplorables as feasible, and an electricity-freshwater shortage will allow them to off-load broken families and poor people to other places. For sure, Democrat Party real-world infrastructural life-maintenance failings and drowning Democrat Party flailing–uh, during a severe drought of ideas as well as an odoriferous self-serving ideology of decay and decadence–means nothing good for taxpayers in the future’s supply pipeline. They’re intellectual fleas driving decent Americans to distraction, and maybe mass destruction by thirst and unconditioned heatwaves. Certainly encouraging departures of the decent to anywhere BUT California.

  4. As to maintenance of facilities, being a facilities guy, the one thing I learned is that when bosses need raises, or more mid managers under them they take facility funds and go into “break-down” maintenance. Stupid is as stupid does!
    Nuclear is really the only way, cleaner and decidedly more power for the dollar. Problems? Ask the Navy, they’ve been floating nuclear since the Rickover days!
    Saw a comment that for the next several weeks, maybe years, Newsom would have to have built and running 1G Nuclear power plants for each week! Just to meet his demand for all electric vehicles! Again, stupid is as stupid does.
    What about our water? California doesn’t have the electric power to run the Brown/Newsom highspeed rail nor is the enough water to for, you name it and Newsom wants us to conserve. I for one will not bail this incompetent out, he is on his own. California fails, I want Newsom at the helm! He can carry the blame and shame.

  5. California is deep into failure mode already, but the public is blissfully unaware because the media control the output so thoroughly that bad news is not allowed on any of the tech media. So much for ‘threat’ of California failing.
    As for nuclear, this is a State with massive earthquake potentials and do you really ‘trust’ those who would build and run nuclear plants to put them somewhere that there are no earthquakes? We do not need a Japanese style catastrophe. Waste storage is already an issue in the ocean as barrels have reportedly been leaking for years. Those issues need to be resolved before we commit to going nuclear, IMHO.

  6. Mr. Pickle says

    As stated, “resource adequacy & planning” by soon to be ex Gov, failed. Fact is that nothing of significance has been instituted regarding more power plants, water storage with generation capabilities in the last 20-40 years. Sad, as we have grown our population by double, yet no action for water or power, save shutting some facilities down. As 5th to 7th largest economy in the world, one can only blame the last 30+ years of Democrat control in this lost golden state due to pie in the sky policies…… SO, So much has be legislation by environmental organizations push to “Save Everything” and political power to do what they want……… Case in point, End Species Act and the crushing it of our economy over the long term. Our CA folks keep sending the same dolts back to office over and over again.
    Well, I guess this makes us the “Golden Third World State” in USA. As PG&E states, No repairs until failure. No new dams and dams in disrepair. And who pays? The saps of any financial status do nothing as we watch costs sky rocket for life’s basics like cost of water, any kinds of fuels for transportation, heating and cooling, food, fire insurance, DMV costs , etc. For those that pay Property Taxes, 2% per year works out to 10% more in 5 years, and most have 30 year mortgages so by the time you pay the house off, you will be paying 60% MORE in prop tax than the day you bought your house. Grrrrrrrr. Dump this governor, and bring BALANCE back to our legislature rather that total control by one party. For any Dem reading this, prove me wrong! Especially those Dems living in hill country paying $5 to $8 Grand for your property and fire insurance premiums with $10K Deductibles… Grrrrrrr # 2

  7. Nuclear energy has been a U.S. national conundrum for at least half a century. American nuclear plants have historically been engineered on a one-off basis, such that every nuclear plant that is planned requires a new design, …resulting in extraordinarily long completion delays and huge cost overruns. The Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tennessee is scheduled to come on-line by the end of this summer (2021), the first U.S. nuclear plant to be completed since 1996 — a quarter century ago, Even the usually inefficient French can manage nuclear plants better than our bureaucrats in Washington and Sacramento.

    It will be decades before our reliance on fossil fuels fades into the sunset. Unless we learn from the Texas power disaster in February, 2021, the politicos will be focusing our tax money on solar, wind and unicorn farts. We currently have the engineering capability to design and build nuclear plants that will provide safe and inexpensive electric energy to power all those Teslas and Priuses in our future.

  8. Maybe closing Diablo Canyon is not such a good idea (it was a stupid idea to begin with). Explore what it would take to reopen Morro Bay and it’s sister plant at Moss Landing.

  9. As far as I can tell it appears the biggest problem is that people believe the lies they tell to themselves.

  10. Too bad Americans aren’t smart enough to construct thorium molten-salt reactors like the Chinese. Importing coal-fired power from Four Corners would be fine with me.

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