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Natural gas production. (Photo: UC Riverside.)

California Adding 5 Temporary Natural Gas Power Plants to Help Alleviate Energy Shortage

‘This is an outright admission that they cannot keep the lights on without natural gas’

By Evan Symon, August 20, 2021 3:09 pm

The California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) announced on Thursday that the state will be temporarily expanding natural gas power by adding new power plants due to energy supply concerns.

According to the CDWR, five new gas powered generators will be temporarily installed in existing power plants. Each generator will produce up to 30 megawatts each, for a grand total of 150 megawatts at full capacity, enough to power roughly 25,000 homes. All 5 generators are expected to be online around mid-September.

Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Marysville) commented on Twitter about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s emergency proclamation:

“Desperate to avoid blackouts caused by his own mismanagement, Newsom turns to the same natural gas plants he has vilified. How many ways can you spell hypocrisy?

The addition of several new gas-powered plants had been more and more expected in the last several months. Rolling blackouts in high energy use months in 2020 caused by energy limitations, the first in twenty years, signaled the need of more electrical resources in 2021. However, due to green energy plants not being added fast enough, the closure of more fossil fuel plants, and hydroelectric dams starting to go offline due to not enough water being in reservoirs to generate electricity, the state saw that an energy shortage was coming.

Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a state of emergency over the power grid. In addition to ordering solar, wind, and other green power plants currently being planned and built to be expedited, he also temporarily removed many air quality rules, hinting at allowing more fossil fuel powered plants to be expanded on.

Despite opposition from environmental groups, Californian regulator groups quickly moved into action after finding out that that state may be short by as much as 3,500 megawatts during peak energy times for the rest of the year. While freed up energy resources and conservation measures would take care of much of that gap, it was clear that more energy would need to be produced. The CDWR soon had the generator idea and was backed up by the California Energy Commission (CEC), who approved licenses for temporary gas generators for up to five years on Tuesday.

With the additional generators approved, the CDWR acted fast to approve the temporary gas generators on Thursday.

Condemnation, praise over the gas-powered generator additions

Environmentalists and many others denounced the plan on Thursday and Friday, saying that the state is starting to turn back on their goal to have 100% clean energy by 2045.

“They’re going to use this energy shortfall to push back that date and bring back gas plants,” said Corey Martin, an environmental protest leader in Los Angeles, to the Globe on Friday. This is if you give a mouse a cookie. We’ll be watching very closely if they start extending more gas plants from their closure dates, start putting in more generators, and other things, because it’s pretty obvious that they are looking that way more and more.

“We need to start protecting this planet now. They just had that report last week showing that we likely already passed that irreversible threshold on destructive climate change. We allow these gas plants to continue coming back, the worse it will be.”

However, many lawmakers, citizens groups, and cities facing rolling blackouts applauded the move, with many pointing out that the generator additions have shown that California cannot be energy stable right now with their current levels of renewable and non-renewable energy.

“Californians are fed up with having to worry about blackouts,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) said on Friday. “This state has done everything in its power to outlaw natural gas. This is an outright admission that they cannot keep the lights on without it.”

Others simply noted the necessity of it.

“California needs this to stave off blackouts which could negatively hurt hundreds of thousands of people. This helps alleviate that, pure and simple,” Andrea Carson, a utility planner in Southern California, said on Friday.

Other energy plans and power options are expected to be released by the state in the coming weeks.

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14 thoughts on “California Adding 5 Temporary Natural Gas Power Plants to Help Alleviate Energy Shortage

  1. “Environmentalists and many others denounced the plan on Thursday and Friday, saying that the state is starting to turn back on their goal to have 100% clean energy by 2045.

    “They’re going to use this energy shortfall to push back that date and bring back gas plants,” said Corey Martin, an environmental protest leader in Los Angeles, to the Globe on Friday. This is if you give a mouse a cookie. We’ll be watching very closely if they start extending more gas plants from their closure dates, start putting in more generators, and other things, because it’s pretty obvious that they are looking that way more and more.

    “We need to start protecting this planet now. They just had that report last week showing that we likely already passed that irreversible threshold on destructive climate change. We allow these gas plants to continue coming back, the worse it will be.”

    Hey Corey – YOU…ARE…A… KAREN…..

    I’ll bet you drive around in your Prius with two masks, a face-shield and gloves…when you’re driving by yourself ….

    Oh, the humanity!!! We’re past the point of no return on irreversible climate change, cried Chicken-Little.. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!!!

    Sadly the mild climate of Colorado affects drama-people like this like flies to a freshly laid road apple….

    Get lost, drama boy….or have a beer and chill out…

    The Earth is amazingly resilient and the sky is not falling… It’s gonna be okay….

    1. California, not Colorado…
      Gotta love auto correct…

      But Colorado ALSO attracts caring feelers like this too…usually wearing Tevas or Birks with hairy dirty toes… Both men AND women….

    2. CD9, I remember a bumper sticker back in the 70’s that was directed at the environmentalists and it read: “Let the bastards freeze to death in the dark”. I saw them everywhere. Seems we could use them now. Climate change, global warming, climate crisis or whatever they are calling it this week is the biggest fairy tale since Grimm.

  2. March, 2019- Reservoirs are at historic high levels and the snowpack is at 150% of average.
    August, 2021- Water levels at Lake Oroville are so low with three months left in the dry season that the the Edward Hyatt Power Plant has to shut down for the first time since it was opened in 1967. And naturally all the brainiacs that run the state blame it on climate change.

    Why is it that every day in California is like living through an episode of the Twilight Zone?

  3. Reality sucks when you just don’t want to believe the data. The whole concept about unreliable renewable power sources (wind and solar) without sufficient electrical storage (mostly batteries) is not hard to understand. The issue is that lithium based batteries are still way to expensive to provide a backup against blackouts for more than a couple hours and the more renewables you add (and as is now clear the more gas and coal plants you shut down) the greater the risk. The cost of batteries has indeed come down almost 90% in the last 10 years, mostly due to Elon Musk, but they need to come down another 90% to be truly affordable.

    I did a quick calculation and the cost of sufficient batteries to protect California from blackouts is on the order of $5T. Developing more modern nuclear plants would help but they are expensive and time consuming to build.

    There is no way out of this pickle until the cost of storage drops and depending on a technological breakthrough while you decommission fossil fuel plants is not a good plan.

    1. ANNNND, the current battery technology is built upon rare earth materials, the bulk of which are sourced from China….

      Surprisingly, Afghanistan has plentiful supplies of rare earth materials, useful for battery manufacturing…

      Think Beijing Biden maybe got a kickback for his unilateral pullback and abandonment of Afghanistan??? Okay, maybe Hunter sold some Afghan rugs he just spun up…

      The occupancy of the White House is truly, truly disturbing….

    2. Step One: Stop shutting down nuclear power plants.
      Step Two: Build more nuclear power plants. You’re going to need them eventually anyhow.

  4. Uh Duh!
    Natural Gas works.
    The cave men rubbed to sticks together and created fire, did they walk away and say “nah, it works to well, it is cheap and plentiful, scrap it!”

    The sun goes down everyday Gavin and friends.
    Hopefully the sun will go down on your reign over California.
    Vote YES to RECALL NEWSOM!
    It is time to turn the lights back on!

  5. How about catching more water and not worrying about the Delta Smelt fish for starters. More water could power the dams. Why does this state continue to build if we don’t have enough water or power. We are screwed in this state with mindless politicians. Our state is full of the,.

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