In 1980, under the first administration of Governor Jerry Brown, California decided it wasn’t going to build any more power plants but would follow Amory Lovins’ “soft path,” opting instead for conservation and renewable energy. By 2000, with the new digital economy sucking up electricity, a drought in the Pacific Northwest cut hydropower output and the state found itself facing the Great California Electrical Shortage.
You know what happened next. For weeks the Golden State struggled to find enough electricity to power its traffic lights. Brownouts and blackouts cascaded across the state while businesses fired up smoke-belching diesel generators to keep the lights on. Governor Gray Davis finally got booted out of office but the state didn’t rescue itself until it threw up 12,000 megawatts of new natural gas plants.
At that point California officials decided that the whole thing had been engineered by Enron and other out-of-state merchant providers and the charges and lawsuits flew. No Democrat ever learned a lesson. The state is now 60 percent dependent on natural gas for its electricity — twice the national average — and its electric bills are almost twice that of surrounding states. Industry is headed for the door.
So how have California’s liberal counterparts on the East Coast managed to avoid the same fate? You’d think a region that could produce Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders plus legions of college students trained to hate fossil fuels would have no trouble pursuing the same green dreams. Well, it’s about to happen. In the next few years New England will be facing a full-scale power shortage.
Last week the governors of the six New England states met in an emergency session at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to discuss what to do about the pending crisis. Significantly, they asked the premiers of five of Canada’s provinces to attend. That makes sense because if the region is going to get electricity from anywhere it is probably going to be from north of the border.The article continues at the link.
Fact check. The writer says: California is now 60 percent dependent on natural gas for its electricity — twice the national average — and its electric bills are almost twice that of surrounding states. Industry is headed for the door. The US government says otherwise. It's possible the writer was comparing a different set of metrics than what I was looking at or what the EIA was reporting.
It is true, according to the EIA, if you take "all sectors," the cost of electricity in California is about 12 cents/kWh compared to 9 cents for Oregon and 10 cents for Arizona. It is possible that the "electric bills are twice those of neighboring states" but that would be due to greater use of electricity by Californians (for air conditioning, no doubt, and longer commutes).
These are the residential rates for electricity as supplied by the EIA, cents/kWh, 2014 (2013):
- California: 10 (16)
- Oregon: 10 (10)
- Washington (with all that hydroelectric power): 9 (9)
- Montana: 10 (10)
- Nevada: 14 (13)
- Colorado: 12 (12)
- North Dakota: 9 (9)
- South Dakota: 10 (9)
- Iowa (with all that wind power): 12 (11)
- Minnesota (with all those mandates): 12 (12)
- Wisconsin: 14 (14)
- Michigan (with all those activists): 15 (14)
- Illinois: 12 (11)
- New York (bans fracking; hates fossil fuel): 20 (18)
- Pennsylvania (loves fracking): 13 (13)
- Vermont 18 (18)
- Rhode Island 18 (14)
- New Hampshire: 18 (17) -- already high and trending higher
- Massachusetts: 18 (15) -- already high and trending higher
- Connecticut: 20 (17) -- already high and trending higher
Vermont was #2: One of the biggest factors playing into Vermont’s high energy costs are that 70 percent of the state’s electricity is generated by nuclear power. That’s a higher percentage than any other state.
And, finally, drum roll ... #1 is Hawaii, but that's an outlier based on logistics. The pleasant climate, of course, offsets some of the costs, which cannot be said for Vermont and New Hampshire with their severe winters (worse than North Dakota's?).
A Note to the Granddaughters
We had a wonderful southwestern US vacation, driving from Dallas to Los Angeles via the Grand Canyon with another full day in the Albuquerque area. Then almost a full three weeks in San Pedro and Huntington Beach, California.
Today, the granddaughters will depart, in another couple of hours, and fly to Louisville, KY.
LAX has three entry points: Sepulveda from the north; Century Blvd from the east; and, Sepulveda from the south. The I-105 enters the Sepulveda on the south side. The main entry point, Century Blvd was closed last night for construction and will remain closed for 56 hours. We were told that traffic would be horrendous.
We drove north from San Pedro, leaving about 8:15 a.m. Saturday morning, on the I-110, and then the I-405 toward Santa Monica. We took the El Segundo exit off I-405 (absolutely no traffic). Sepulveda going north was almost traffic-free. We hit the green light at the Sepulveda - I-105 connection and sailed through. There was really no traffic going into LAX this morning.
It was a different story inside. The Delta line was the longest we had ever seen, streaming from the check-in area to almost the next terminal. The good news: Delta's Special Services line was very, very short, and that's where the granddaughters were checked in. While waiting, I noted that the Delta line moved very quickly and is now almost non-existent: folks must have all arrived at the same time, very early, to beat the horrendous traffic that was predicted. It took a fair amount of time to get the granddaughters checked in so that May could go through security with them and get them to their gate. I am waiting outside the security area.
It's about 10:20 a.m. and the granddaughters depart at 11:55 a.m., I believe.
By the way, huge kudos to the Delta folks for dealing with so many customers. Everything seemed to move along very smoothly.
The airport authority also did a great job managing the new traffic flow due to new construction.
A Note to the Granddaughters
In a recent post, I said I had a love-hate relationship with Los Angeles: some days I love it, other days not so much, but perhaps "hate" was too strong a word.
In the autumn of 1972, I flew out to Los Angeles for an interview. I barely had enough money for the flight, so I planned (and did) hitchhike back to Sioux Falls, SD, after the interview.
I remember the day I flew into Los Angeles for the first time as vividly as if it had occurred yesterday. I was "temporarily blinded" by the very bright sunshine. The airport seemed immense. I walked over to "information" asking which direction my destination lay.
They said I could never walk that far, and suggested I take a bus to Chinatown (which I did) and then walk the rest of the way (which I did).
Today, with three hours to spare waiting for the granddaughters to depart, I took a walk, leaving LAX and headed east on Century Blvd. May was at the departure gate with the girls.
It was slightly (but only slightly) difficult finding the way out of the airport on foot. It appears that one can easily walk towards the city on the west-bound boulevard but not the east-bound boulevard. And there it was: the first non-airport restaurant, a Subway, about a 15-minute walk from terminal 5, or I suppose about a 10-minute walk from terminal 1, the first terminal upon entering the airport. I was surprised at the number of pilots that were walking from the surrounding high-rise high-end luxury hotels to the airport. I assume this was about the only exercise many of them get in their day-to-day work.
I'm now back at the airport, the plane has pushed back, and we can leave as soon as the plane is airborne.
Meanwhile, across from me the police have just brought in a bomb-sniffing dog to examine a piece of abandoned luggage. I am amazed at all the luggage that seems to be left behind. I taught the granddaughter to count the number of items they carry unto the plane. My hunch is they already knew to do that because the older one, when asked, said she had five items, including a ribbon she tied around the new hardcover book that she picked up yesterday.
On my walk, it looked like traffic was amazingly light. I doubt there will be any trouble getting back on Sepulveda, going south, to catch the I-405.
I guess this would be one of the days I "love" LA.
Here comes May now.