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California’s Electric Grid Is Near Collapse

‘California’s bet on renewables and shunning of natural gas and nuclear power, is directly responsible for the state’s blackouts and high electricity prices’

By Katy Grimes, August 19, 2020 1:13 pm

Tehachapi Wind Farm. (Photo: Wikipedia)

California is rich in natural resources which once powered the state: natural gas deposits in the Monterey Shale formation; geothermal energy, abundant rivers and waterways such as the San Joaquin River Delta and hydroelectric dams; the Pacific coastline; 85 million acres of wildlands with 17 million of those used as commercial timberland; mines and mineral resources, vast farming and agricultural lands, and hunting and fishing.

But California politicians and appointed agency officials, under pressure from radical environmental organizations and lobbyists, decided to ignore the energy producing natural resources, and instead move to an all-electric grid, and the only approved “renewable energy:” solar and wind energy.

A  meteorologist friend, Anthony Watts, said Tuesday, “we are on the cusp of a massive failure of the electricity grid in California.” Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute, and has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. Watts is also proprietor of the award-winning website, Watts Up With That?

Apparently the California Independent System Operator agrees with Watts’ assessment:

Watts explained the difference between California’s imposed rolling blackouts in 2000 and 2001, and the rolling blackouts and power outages today:

The 2000-01 blackouts “occurred when California had a shortage of electricity supply caused by electricity market manipulations. A demand-supply gap was created, mainly by Enron, to create an artificial shortage so speculators could benefit from an 800 percent increase in wholesale electricity prices. As a result, California suffered from multiple large-scale blackouts. Now an electricity shortage coupled with rolling blackouts is happening again, but for a different reason.”

He warned:

“This is going to make Enron rolling blackouts in 2000/2001 look puny. The reason? Solar power – actually the lack of it. Solar power has this thorny problem; it disappears after sunset, and California’s electric grid is highly dependent on it now thanks to the political mandate known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32). AB32 specifically required that 50 percent of California’s electricity to be powered by “green energy,” aka wind and solar, by 2025 and 60 percent by 2030, ending in 100% “carbon free” energy by 2045. Now, California is paying the price for abandoning reliable energy sources in favor of green energy sources such as wind and solar power, which don’t work when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. During heat waves like California is experiencing now, there’s typically plenty of sunshine, but winds are often stagnant.”

Yesterday former California Governor Jerry Brown came out of his Colusa County bunker to condescend to sweltering California ratepayers suffering under 110 degree temperatures:

Remember when in 2015 Jerry went off on California citizens for using water?

“At a press conference last week announcing the need for a 25 percent cut in water consumption, Brown said, ‘People should realize we are in a new era. The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past.’”

Gov. Gavin Newsom is also calling for residents to conserve energy:

Michael Shellenberger, best-selling author of “Apocalypse Never,” Tweeted: “California’s bet on renewables, & its shunning of natural gas & nuclear, is directly responsible for the state’s blackouts and high electricity prices,” and warned about the Biden-Harris plan.

Watts provided a chart showing California’s growing power outages between 2008 and 2017:

California power outages 2008-2017. (Photo: Anthony Watts)


Watts explained the power shortages:

It gets worse. On August 17, during the CAISO Board of Governors Meeting CAISO President Steve Berber let loose with this bit of reality. From transcript:

“You are trading the loss of 3000 megawatts for the collapse of the entire system of California and perhaps the entire West. … When you’re at the very edge and you have a contingency and you have no operating reserves, you risk entire system collapse.”

What a sobering thought.

California has traded energy security to kneel before the false prophet of green energy. Instead of using reliable and affordable nuclear and coal plants, they are using intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power. And the people of California, and perhaps the West in general, may pay the price for that homage if the power grid collapses during the ongoing heat wave.

If that happens, such an event will dwarf what happened at the hand of market manipulators like Enron in 2000/2001, and will be the most expensive and devastating green energy lesson ever in history.

It gets even worse.

As California Globe reported last year, and has been covering since 2011:

  • In 2011, California passed the Renewables Portfolio Standard setting the mandate at 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.
  • When it became clear that California was nearly there, in 2015, the Legislature moved the bar again and passed SB 350 the “Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015.” SB 350 by Sen. President pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), requires the state to procure 50 percent of electricity from renewable energy and double energy efficiency savings by 2030.
  • In 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 100, setting a 100 percent clean electricity goal for the state, and issued an executive order establishing a new target to achieve carbon neutrality – both by 2045.

Power outages and rolling blackouts are coming more frequently as California has taken nuclear power plants offline, and hydroelectric dams offline, while increasing renewables mandates for wind and solar. Nuclear power, as is hydroelectric, is clean and reliable; wind and solar power, while clean, are unreliable and significantly more expensive.

Even the President weighed in on California’s rolling blackouts:

…and touted his energy independence policies:

Meanwhile at his noon press conference Wednesday, Gov. Newsom, who blames California’s wildfires and triple digit heat on climate change, said “the way to deal with the ravages of climate change is to not let the climate change.”


Our thanks to Anthony Watts who provided California Globe his essay, “Thanks to Green Energy Mandates, California’s Electric Grid Is Near Collapse,” and it was also published at RedState.

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105 thoughts on “California’s Electric Grid Is Near Collapse

    1. My question is, are there forgein countries profiting from California going green? I have not seen any articles on that.

        1. How did these politicians and greenys become so delusional? Do they honestly think they can change the climate?? Are they really that mentally ill? This kind of delusion has become an epidemic

          1. It’s a God complex that comes from arrogance, that, ironically, comes from not having an understanding of God.
            When you think you’re God you think you can change the climate, which of course seems absurd to most people.

    2. I recall that in 1980 in Wichita, KS, we had more than 30 days in a row of 100 degree plus heat. Parts of Texas had over 40 days in a row. Heat waves are nothing new.

    3. Thank you for posting this. It’s the same thing with every storm or heatwave, a huge headline to cause fear, panic and blame but no mention of historical data that shows it’s not so uncommon. Back in the 20’s and 30’s life was a lot different, yet there were still similar heat waves and storms…

  1. Back in the 70’s there was a saying that hippies can go freeze in the dark. Well the hippies won and now they are forcing everyone to freeze (or sweat) in the dark. What a Brave New World!

  2. Gov. Newsom, who blames California’s wildfires and triple digit heat on climate change, said “the way to deal with the ravages of climate change is to not let the climate change.”

    King Canute aint got nothing on Emperor Newsome.

    1. “Dont let the climate change”. Does he think he is God almighty? This is what happens when you put liberals in charge. I left CA 12 years ago and havent looked back.

      1. I know you were being rhetorical, Golfer Gal, but yes, he DOES think he is God almighty.
        Of course he is not alone in that. There are plenty of other examples within easy reach.
        Arrogant Gruesome is useful for something, anyway — and that is to show us what the sin of Pride looks like, which can sometimes be a slippery and confusing concept.

  3. Thank you Katy for giving us the truth and what is going on (or off). It’s just like Dennis Prager says: “the left destroys everything it touches”.

    1. The Right exploits everything it touches, including humans. Way to go deflecting the worst in you.

        1. Or, the Democrat playbook and mindset…

          And we’re surrounded by these caring, feeling dumbscheits…

      1. Also a real Californian, I don’t agree with your statement but I’d rather exploit than destroy. Specifically, I’d love to exploit Hydro, Nuke ad NG power so I can continue to live in the modern world.

        Besides, blackouts result in a lot of folks and businesses running generators as backup power and they pollute more than a large NG plant.

        And-It’s been well known for a while that the increasing demand from charging EVs would put significant stress the CA Grid.

        1. Also, how much carbon based fuels are expended mining, manufacturing and transporting solar and wind turbine components to their final destination?
          Where’s the mention of solar panels needing to be replaced every 15 years?
          What about the wind turbine problems with burn out?

      2. Ummm… you’re wrong first of all, thats a baseless statement. Second, can you post some facts, I mean actual facts with links, that show the people posting here a wrong about the mismanagement of CA by democrats? The extreme leftist have ruined CA, just look at the state of affairs in our state. We have a power grid that’s about to collapse, with power outages people are not safe, the elderly and children will suffer the most, this is where we are today, this is true abuse. Also being a Californian myself, I see that we live with the sad consequences of our leaders poor judgement every day on many fronts, but I do it because I remember what my state used to be like before Jerry Brown. It sucks that the rational minded hardworking people are leaving and it’s only getting worse. Not giving up though and will continue to fight and try and vote these crazy radicals out!

        1. California is like all other democrat run state’s. They turned a great place into a big shit hole. I love the green new deal. Arrest these morons.

      3. Conservationism vs environmentalism. Conservatism vs extremism.
        Charity vs welfare.
        Exploitation vs destruction.
        I’m tired of “Big Brother” telling us we can’t have our toys if we don’t share.

  4. Makes you wonder what Brown and Newsom keep their thermostats at. Just goes to show that you cannot run a state on dreams and unicorn farts. Those darn laws of thermodynamics just have to rear their collective ugly heads and ruin everything!

  5. 40 years in the energy industry, mostly in Nuclear Plant Engineering, Services and Modifications. In the 70s and 80s we used to say that the very people who are protesting nuclear power today will be the first ones screaming when the lights go out. California’s solution: shut down Diablo Canyon, the last commercial nuclear generating station in the state. When politicians and bankers replace engineers in technology, this is your result.

    1. It was pointed out to me many years ago that we used to have engineers on water boards, because, DUH, we needed that level of expertise to make decisions about water complexities. No more…. now even water boards are used as stepping stones for leftists with NO knowledge who then infiltrate higher offices. This has happened virtually unseen by the public. After all, who pays attention to who is on their local water board?

  6. Nice hit job. How much were you paid by Steve Bannon?

    Oh wait, he’s arrested…

    Only time for you quacks.

    1. It’s people like you, who have NOTHING of value to add to the discussion, that is making me hate my home state and the failed policies of virtue signalers that appeal to “Real Californians”….

  7. Liberal ideas have always failed. while claiming to be the smartest people on earth they’re actually, in practice, and reality the stupidest.

  8. I worked in the power industry for many years and I learn from your explanations of the timing of outages. There is another point that wind and solar fall short. and that is the ability to raise and lower the voltage on a particular system.

    1. It is also my understanding that the unreliable nature of renewables such as wind and solar — the fact that they surge, then stop, then surge, then stop —- wreak havoc on transmission lines, damaging them much more and much faster than do other sources of energy. Can you confirm this or do you agree that this could be happening?

  9. I lived in Southern CA back in 1965 for two years. At least once a month we took a trip to one of the nearby state or national parks. Took over 300 color slides. As I was stuck in the house for the last six months, I digitized and cleaned the images up. What amazed ma was how thin the growth of trees were back then. One example is the hill going up to the telescopes.The trees were separated by yards of space, some areas even looked like a desert. The trees and vegetation were less than one fourth as thick as now.

  10. Regardless of your perspective, there is a book, “Power System Operation” by Miller, that is a must read to understand this. Get the latest version.

  11. This is Trumpanzee right wing bull shit. Renewable energy works. I have solar and an electric.car and power wall.

    1. Have you noticed the brownouts and blackouts all happen around sunset and into the night when the sun does not shine?

    2. And that’s all well and good for you, but even you run off the grid. Also, I’m sure your setup is accessible to everybody and is super inexpensive per kwh. Also, sorry but you will need to replace your batteries in 7 years, max. Not cheap. Have you checked out how abundant lithium is?

  12. A preview for all of America of what Democrats in charge will look like. Do you like Venezuela? Vote Democrat and you’ll get plenty of it.

    1. Do you realize the circle of political power the is filled by Californians? Pelosi, Schiff, Feinstein, and of course Harris, etc.? If you don’t want California policies throughout the country, don’t vote Democrat. Democrats ruin everything they touch.

  13. Anthony Watts, who is heavily quoted in this article has almost no scientific credibility. A degree in communications and strong opinions do not equal expertise in anything other than entertainment.

    California is known as an early adopter, and will certainly hit some bumps as such, as do all early adopters. But to say the power grid problems are all because of its stance on renewables is disingenuous.

    The entire country has grid problems that stem from aging infrastructure. This is the issue at hand. Renewables are a part of the solution as are things like the smart grids, connected devices and conventional power sources.

    To place blame here is to avoid the dialog that needs to take place around modernizing our infrastructure. These are complex, difficult issues and require collaboration.

    1. @Mike,
      Even a HS kid can read the above chart an see the CA HS ~three times the number of outages as the next highest state. WHY.
      Outages cost you, the user. Money, big money. I average about twenty outages a year. Pluss an additional 20 to 30 rapid off/on outages a year. These on/off outages have destroyed two flat screen TVs and two refrigerators. The outages also cause me to go through the process of reconnecting most of my IOT cameras, sockets, lights, etc.

  14. Has it occurred to anyone the REAL problem here in California is overpopulation? The powers to be keep letting new homes to be built and encouraging people to move here when clearly the state can’t handle it!, not just with electricity but water also.

    1. California mandated new houses are pre-built with solar. Many builders are throwing in battery storage options. Given the wildfires-as-new-normal, many in NorCal will no doubt love energy independence they’ll get at great prices given Cali now has made a market yielding economies of scale Costco pricing that will only get cheaper over time.

  15. This article is itself a farce.

    Some counterfacts then. Cali’s RPS doesn’t exclude nuclear. Nuclear isn’t profitable to build much less operate. Solar now has economies of scale as does wind. Battery prices are dropping significantly and with no cobalt tech on horizon will drop by order of magnitude in a couple year’s time.

    Volatile climate change concerns extremes in temperature. Cali decided to take nat gas offline because it did not want to contribute to extremes. Californians are mature enough to conserve and invest in solar and battery storage which will come online the next 2-5 years.

    Next summer you won’t see these blackouts. That is why musk keeps telling wall st Tesla’s power business will exceed cars. Because their mega packs which are densest and fastest to deploy in couple months time are going to be demand for decades to come.

    1. Nuclear is not financially viable because of all the legal hurdles the state has imposed. Then there are the endless lawsuits by greens and NIMBY’s. It can take decades of legal battles to do any project of any type in this state.

    2. @Awake ???
      ” Nuclear isn’t profitable to build much less operate. ” Now Use YOUR Brain and figure out Why Nuclear is not profitable. Like the subsidies given renewables, THAT YOU PAY IN YOUR STATE & FEDERAL TAXES, that makes renewables cost less than the electrical dispatchers LESS than their actual cost. This means that to sell RELIABLE power they need to price it as low as the Subsidized Unreliable Renewables. Then the fact these renewables need replaced every 15-20 years and YOU get to pay for construction again, and again. Then you have the hidden cost of unreliable renewable that you ignore – All of those replaced renewables need to be decommissioned and disposed of, a cost NOT factored in the the present selling price of their electricity. And worse is the cost to the environment of the mining, smelting purifying all of the materials making these renewables. This cost is over ten times the cost of nuclear, which nuclear already has factored into their cost overhead BY LAW. Renewables just dump it on you at the end or when they go bankrupt to avoid paying the costs, and leaving YOU to pay for them again, and again.
      You have been conned, scammed and lied to for 30 plus years.

  16. Ntm world’s largest battery storage just came online in San Diego double size of Australia’s Hornsdale installation. https://www.rechargenews.com/transition/worlds-largest-battery-storage-complex-brought-on-line-in-california-as-blackouts-loom/2-1-861523

    Tesla’s building an even bigger one in Monterey, 3 to 4x bigger than this one. https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2020/07/29/pge-tesla-begin-construction-on-the-worlds-largest-battery-for-now/

    “ As much disparity as there is on this list right now, it’s set to look entirely different in a short time. In addition to the Moss Landing battery project, there are a number of 100 MW storage projects being developed across the United States, including Clean Power Alliance Lancaster, AES Alamitos and Arizona, Strata Oxnard. There is also the massive 409 MW Florida Power and Light Manatee project.”

    Vistra Energy is building an even bigger one than Tesla. Will be online by end of year. Tesla’s will be online by 2021.

    AES Alamitos is 10 mins away from my house. Replaces a nat gas peaked plant. Gone are the smoke stacks. Will be another monstrous battery installation.

    Talk is cheap. I doubt you’ll write an article about how Cali solved the blackouts in record time using the best tech as you’d expect from California.

    1. Battery storage and green power are enormously expensive. Even they solve the blackouts the energy cost will be so high that you won’t be able to afford AC or heat.

  17. Hey demtardbrown, what’s your thermostat set at ? This is just a taste of things to come if the democrats win and demtardaoc has any say. You can power a submarine for 10 to 20 years on a piece of uranium the size of a grapefruit,which is more than likely about twice the size of your brain.

  18. I really like that the entirety of the complaints on here are based on party differences rather than actual facts. Fuc the libs is not a solution. Better public policy will only come from people finding coomon ground rather than degrading each other over our political ideology. I love California but you have to understand that SF and LA will always have the political power to outnumber the rest of the states incredibly diverse rural areas. Personally im liberal leaning but i grew up with guns on a ranch. Now i have gay friends who smoke legal pot whilst plinking 22s on thier organic farm. Don’t blame liberal people for bad public policy. California is the best state by far. Do we have problems , sure what state with a similiar population and size doesn’t. The entire USA needs people to put away their differences and force government to work for the people and not just the wealthy corporations and their shareholders.

  19. Hello, Earth to California, you made your bed now it may well be time to sleep in them. You liberals gave full power to the Democrats to pass “Green laws” and take California down a one way street to oblivion. It may take a full collapse of the Western United States Power Grid to wake you up? Enjoy the no power and scratch your heads trying to figure out how it happened.

  20. Canadian here , vancouver bc. Canadas California.
    The lefty morons up here are building a 25billion dollar dam to sell our power to you all down there. Before that site even comes online we already sell a huge surplus of energy to you.

  21. Mr. Brown, What is your thermostat set at? This is just a taste of things to come if the democrats win and AOC and the green new deal has anything to say about it. You can power a submarine for 10 to 20 years on a piece of uranium the size of a grapefruit. Open the flood gates for more nuclear power.

    1. This is why the Smithsonian says that planning for the future, science, logical and rational thinking are “white” and therefore bad. Liberals don’t want facts and science getting in the way of their pie in the sky green dreams.

  22. This has the obvious conclusions you would expect from the heartland institute of course. But it is a conclusion in search of facts. No mention that we are having record electricity usage thanks to the pandemic.

    And non-planned brownouts and blackouts are related to the quality of the grid itself, not how the electricity is produced. Planned outages mean CA can’t get electricity from other states… Which means all the neighboring states are also facing incredible demand.

    And the assertion that the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing is, of course, ridiculous. The sun is shining plenty, which why there is a heat wave, and the wind is blowing, hence the wildfires.

    I look forward to Watt’s next great piece, “States that get tornadoes: it’s because of hot air, which means too much steamy sex!”

  23. There is no respect for anybody or anything left in the world. When we find it, things will begin to get better.

  24. I recently completed a graduate degree in Energy Systems and have worked at the California ISO. Solar, wind, and energy storage (e.g. batteries) are, broadly speaking, the cheapest ways to reliably power modern electricity grids. Coal is expensive and just so happens to kill people. Building new nuclear plants is very expensive and slow. If you don’t care about leaving future generations with cleaner air and a more inhabitable planet, fine.. but please understand the transition to renewables is happening not because of radical hippies but because of basic economics.

  25. Why do I pay 300 dollars a month for power on average? I live in a older house with less than perfect insulation. My thermostat is set at 78, becuase who can afford to go crazy like 75 or less. Now the power goes out twice a weak right smack in the hottest part of the day. I’m not smart enough to understand how prices keep getting higher, while also being told to cut back on everything. I work hard in this state to try to pay my way, but every turn I make someone has there hand out, while also telling you how you should live. Left or right, yes mask ,no mask, no police, yes police, everyone has a problem with something. I’m all over the place on this one, but just want to work ,pay my bills and try to enjoy life just a little. But all other countries are watching us burn ourselves down and enjoy every little bit of it. I would love to Vote for someone that can listen to both sides of a topic, and make a smart decision to move us forward. Instead of trying to burn one side to the ground. 40 years in California and do not want to leave, but what coming next????

    1. What’s coming next is … you will either leave or continue to watch your life go down the tubes.


  26. Now some facts you ignored.
    Construction cost 161 million A$

    Power generation
    Nameplate capacity 150 MW
    Storage capacity 193.5 MWh

    READ THE NUMBERS it will only provide 150 MW for about 1.3 hours.
    So the one you are bragging about will provide 300 MW for 1.3 hours OR 150 MW for 2.6 hours.
    Average home uses 25 kWh per day or 1 kWh in an hour. That means the Battery you bragged about only provides power to about 300 thousand homes (About 1/10 the number of LA. homes) for one hour – At average load rate which will not be the case when there are blackouts and the AC is running. How long are the blackouts? Usage under those conditions could easily be five times that. And only 12 thousand homes for a day assuming they curtail the power usage to LESS than 1 kWh. Never happen. CA would need hundreds and hundreds of these 300 MW batteries. No wonder Musk is counting his gold. GND make many new Multi Billionaires.

  27. All of California can sweat in the dark. These total clowns have elected their tormentors … enjoy.

    I hope you have total collapse soon and all conservative minded folks abandon that loony bin ASAP … However, when you reach a new state, do not continue to vote democrat or you will have to move again.




  29. Self-perceived environmentalists think mineral exploration and extraction are ugly. But, they never consider how ugly their solar and wind farms are nor the simple, obvious fact that “green” energy production is unreliable at best.

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