California’s Energy Fantasies

As everyone knows, California prides itself on being greener-than-thou. Especially when it comes to energy. California has mandated that it aims to double its “green energy” by the year 2030, and to be totally carbon-free by 2050. The chief means for accomplishing this are more wind and solar power, and electricity storage (think big big batteries).

Already California is experiencing rolling blackouts on high-demand days in the summer and fall. And beyond that, it appears California already can’t meet its basic electricity needs.

From the Energy Information Administration (the statistical unit of the Department of Energy) earlier this week:

California was the largest net electricity importer of any state in 2019

Electricity routinely flows between the Lower 48 states and, to a lesser extent, between the United States and Canada and Mexico. Electricity generation exceeds electricity consumption in 25 states, and excess electricity is transmitted across state lines—almost 10% of U.S. electricity generation is traded among states. In 2019, California’s net electricity imports were the largest in the country at 70.8 million megawatthours (MWh), or 25% of the state’s total electricity supply. Pennsylvania’s electricity exports were the largest of any state in 2019, at 70.5 million MWh, or 24% of total supply.

This little detail is important:

California utilities partly own and import power from several power plants in Arizona and Utah. . . Although EIA data do not show which fuel sources were used to generate electricity traded between states, the generation profiles of exporting states in the State Electricity Profiles provide an estimate of the fuel mix for exported electricity.

Both Arizona and Utah still have a fair bit of coal-fired electricity, and as electrons are fungible in the power grid, it is fair to conclude that California’a boast of being “low-emission” in its electricity system is partially fraudulent.

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