Home>Articles>California’s Perfect Storm: Hot Weather, Low Reservoirs, Diminished Hydro Power, Unreliable Renewable Energy

Lake Oroville, the second-largest state reservoir in Northern California, experienced low water levels during drought. (Photo: California Department of Water Resources)

California’s Perfect Storm: Hot Weather, Low Reservoirs, Diminished Hydro Power, Unreliable Renewable Energy

Power outages, rolling blackouts didn’t used to be the norm in California; they are now

By Katy Grimes, July 22, 2021 2:15 am

Last week, Californians learned that Pacific Gas and Electric told state utility regulators that a damaged fuse box from a one of their power lines could be responsible for starting the large Dixie Fire currently burning in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The Globe spoke with an energy industry expert on Tuesday, who asked to remain unnamed, about how it appeared PG&E was attempting to get out in front of this latest fire. He agreed, but there is more to it than just public relations. Specifically, he said it’s about PG&E’s credit rating, and their ability to purchase power from other energy providers.

According to Marketbeat, as of December 31, 2020, PG&E owns and operates approximately 18,000 circuit miles of interconnected transmission lines, 35 electric transmission substations, approximately 108,000 circuit miles of distribution lines, 68 transmission switching substations, and 758 distribution substations; and natural gas transmission, storage, and distribution system consisting of approximately 43,500 miles of distribution pipelines, approximately 6,300 miles of backbone and local transmission pipelines, and various storage facilities.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) officially exited bankruptcy in July 2020 after paying billions in claims and settlements, and accepting responsibility in dozens of wildfire deaths. But the utility giant is still facing significant turmoil.

How energy needs are met

In order to buy power, PG&E needs credit, the same as you do when you go to purchase a new car. If your credit is stellar, you may not need to put much money down as a deposit on the purchase. But if your credit is mediocre or poor, you will be required to put a large amount down as a deposit. Or if your credit is really bad, you won’t be purchasing a car on credit.

In the energy field, companies have to post or deposit hundreds of millions of dollars to buy power on credit. Energy companies with good credit ratings are able to make long term power purchases, thus sealing the deal on lower energy prices. Energy companies with poor credit are only able to purchase more expensive short term power – the same if you are purchasing an airline ticket in advance with a lower price, or on short notice with a higher price.

Currently, energy experts say PG&E’s credit could be downgraded in the next few days, which only drives the cost of energy up higher for consumers.

In one year PG&E stock dropped about $5.00 per share in value, posing a credit problem.

California Independent System Operator, CalISO, explains Summer 2021 conditions:

CalISO sees potential challenges in meeting demand during extreme heat waves. Such scenarios that affect a substantial portion of the Western Interconnection and cause simultaneously high loads across the West would reduce the availability of imports into the ISO balancing authority area. Improvements to supply conditions in 2021 are largely driven by the addition of new resources coming online as early as this summer. However, while forecasted load levels remain virtually unchanged under normal conditions, a second year of significantly lower-than-normal hydro conditions and an increased possibility of extreme weather events indicate the ISO may still face challenges in meeting load this summer.

California currently buys 20% to 30% of its daily supplemental energy from other states. We do not produce enough of our own energy to support the state’s needs. And with the overwhelming push by the left to rid the state of natural gas production, oil, nuclear and hydro power, intermittent renewable energy cannot provide steady, reliable power for the state’s 40 million resident.

This summer’s energy needs are looking as if they will not be met as California is facing a perfect storm.

Last summer, the August 14-15, 2020 power blackouts happened when the state was short 400 MegaWatts of energy. According to our energy expert, California is currently short 1,300 MegaWatts of hydroelectric power.

Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, which supplies water to millions, has hit its lowest water levels since 1935, the year the dam was built. “The Colorado River supplies water to 40 million people, while the Hoover Dam generates electricity to about 25 million people,” ABC reported.

Lake Oroville is already so low we won’t have any hydro power from it. And the Colorado River Basin told California to expect water cutbacks. The Oregon fire has reduced California’s hydro energy by 15,000 MegaWatts of power, our energy expert said.

The other significant factor in California’s power shortages is unreliable, yet mandated, “renewable energy” and specifically solar power.

Daily peak solar power begins at 10:00am and lasts until 4:00pm, just in time for families to get home from work, school and sports, and cook dinner, watch television, do homework on computers and laptops, play video games, do laundry, run baths and showers – all things that take energy and power. This is why energy utilities are trying to force urban clients to do laundry on weekends when energy is a flat rate.

In 2019, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District began charging Sacramento electricity users and ratepayers a new tiered rate system that charges residential users higher rates between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. These summer “peak” rates are about 40% – 200% higher.

So when solar power goes off-peak at 4:00pm in time for families to get home from work, the rates skyrocket.

Where will the power come from with solar power offline and not producing in the evening?

When renewables aren’t available, natural gas kicks in. It’s not only a reliable energy source, natural gas is the always-ready backup for intermittent solar and wind renewable energy – because the sun doesn’t always shine and goes down at night, and the wind doesn’t always blow.

But gas-powered vehicles, and natural gas are endangered species in California. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order in September 2020 requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and “additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector,” the Globe reported. Newsom also called for an end to Hydraulic Fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking” for natural gas in California.

Cities are banning the use of natural gas. The California Energy Commission rolled out new building code drafts in May, proposing building standards to require new homes have all-electric appliances instead of natural gas appliances.

These policies, and not “extreme weather,” are leading to rolling blackouts this summer in California. The weather in the Golden State is typical – hot dry summers are normal, but power outages didn’t used to be the norm. They are now.

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17 thoughts on “California’s Perfect Storm: Hot Weather, Low Reservoirs, Diminished Hydro Power, Unreliable Renewable Energy

  1. The left has the “Midas Touch”, only that touch does not turn to gold. It turns to sh**. Dennis Prager has said many times “the left destroys everything it touches”. Folks don’t vote Democratic.

  2. California, the land of fruits and nuts.
    A land that no longer can sufficiently provide the literal fruit, nuts, meat, rice and yes precious life sustaining water.

    Wanna know what the dark ages were like? Keep voting Democrat!

    Dear Lord, please help us.

  3. This situation is so infuriating! The leftist Dems and their activist friends have been pushing this absurd agenda on California for decades. They’ve doubled and tripled down in recent years and no one ever stops them! The Newsom recall may be the last chance to save the state; if he stays we’re guaranteed to be living at a third world standard within a decade. The water and power shortages have already been established and the slums are developing nicely, but there’s still more destruction to come under the Dems. Vote Newsom out and vote a *serious* conservative in!

  4. do the math. pge did. its very simple, operate in breakdown maintenance mode for 20 years with limited employees and save a boatload of money. state does the same thing with public infrastructure. so we kill some people along the way and have to pay fines, but hey, its still cheaper to pay fines. besides, even if with a judgement to pay, pge can take their sweet time paying, and the PUC has their back. homeowners will soon realize the cost of delayed infrastructure/forest maintenance is directly related to the cost of homeowners fire insurance. wont be long, someone will ask a judge to rule. pge and the state should pay our fire insurance as they are directly responsible for the tragedy. the good thing is the fish have plenty of water as we increase the freshwater going out to sea.

  5. Maybe we can run the never ending TV commercials for the “This Little Light of Mine Crowd” to remind people how STUPID the Democrat pipe dreams espoused by Governor Dippity-Doo and his predecessor, “Moonbeam” are…

    The more I think about it, these Democrat Communist jackwagons ARE trying to de-populate the state, so their ChiCom funders and overlords can come in and buy up the real estate for cheap, so they can grow food for their populace back in China, and pay off these asswipes handsomely for the efforts….

    That’s the only solution that makes ANY logical sense….

    1. They are absolutely trying to depopulate the state. The entire “green” agenda revolves around the theory that people are bad. The Great Reset wants to remove at least 90% of the worlds population. Anything that makes life hard for the ordinary person is the plan. The elites who have their own private generation systems and can afford ultra high energy costs are tickled pink with how things are going. Bill Gates could pay a thousand dollars a kW hour and never miss the money.

  6. Requiring all electric appliances? Finally got a building permit and was told by the energy compliance person we were NOT ALLOWED to have an electric heater. This is for a small off grid house. Also can’t have wood heat. The micromanagement keeps going back and forth.

    1. Electric heat will simply not work for off grid homes. Most rural areas in the state still allow wood heat. As far as I know anywhere that does not have natural gas service has to allow wood heat.

  7. California is probably the leading example of what not to do. Other states (liberal of course) are following but way behind. Decommissioning 24/7 power facilities before sufficient electric storage is cheap and available is absolute folly. The transition to renewables will not be viable for decades and until Calif can power SF or LA for a day or week on storage, they have no business powering down reliable electric power generators no matter what powers them.

    It’s really insane.

  8. More evidence that California legislators are doing their best to drive the agricultural providers to bankruptcy, so their ChiCom overlords & funders can swoop in to buy up the best ag land in the world on the cheap…

    If they were responsible stewards of the resources that they are responsible for, and not towing an “environmentalist” mandate to save fish that no one even knows exists, they would be building reservoirs, settling ponds & other water resources to match the growth and requirements of the population since the late 60’s when they stopped building reservoirs….

    Absolutely maddening, but consistent with The Great Reset & communist takeover plans that are apparently beginning to manifest…


  9. Two years ago, our reservoirs were over capacity and had enough water to last 5 years. Now they can’t even generate hydroelectric power. The crooks have been emptying our reservoirs into the ocean. I’m not convinced it is to save fish; I think they are doing this out of sheer malice.

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