California’s Energy Policies: The Poor Are Hit Hardest

California’s Energy Policies: The Poor Are Hit Hardest

National Review
By ROBERT BRYCE
August 3, 2015 8:00 AM

For the state’s elites, fighting climate change comes first — no matter the cost.

In a recent column in the Orange County Register, demographer Joel Kotkin wrote, “California is a great state in which to be rich,” but he added that affluence in California “co-exists alongside unconscionable poverty.” He pointed out that in the Golden State, the poverty rate for Latinos is 33.7 percent and for African Americans, 30 percent. Both those percentages are well above national averages.

Kotkin’s column, which carried the headline “Putting climate change ahead of constituents,” excoriates the energy policies being promoted by California’s liberal politicians, policies that he calls “environmental puritanism.” Kotkin (whom I am proud to call a friend) has it exactly right. California may be one of America’s most liberal states, but its energy policies are regressive, and the state’s headlong rush toward lower carbon-dioxide emissions and greater use of renewables will only make that regressivity worse.

Liberal Democrats across the country frequently talk about the plight of Latinos and African Americans, and the need to increase take-home pay for the poor and the middle class, but their energy policies are hurting those very same people. No state provides a better example of that than California. And no policy provides a better example of regressive energy taxation than California’s renewable-energy mandate.

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Commentary: Coal plant retirements could devastate power grid resiliency

Commentary: Coal plant retirements could devastate power grid resiliency

Farmington Daily Time, Matthew Kandrach, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy Published 4:43 a.m. MT July 25, 2018

There is growing alarm over the loss of America’s baseload sources of electricity. Coal and nuclear power plants are being pushed off the grid by a three-headed monster of heavily-subsidized renewable energy, the legacy effects of overzealous regulation, and a glut of natural gas.

Since 2010, more than 600 coal-fired generating units in 43 states have retired or announced plans to retire. Nearly 70 Gigawatts of coal capacity (enough to power 50 million homes) has already been retired, and half of the nation’s commercial nuclear fleet is facing financial pressure.

While wholesale electricity costs have actually fallen in some regions of the country over the past few years, it appears we’re reaching a tipping point where a further loss of coal and nuclear capacity could impose a huge financial burden on consumers.

A new case study by Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) examined the potential cost of early retirement for three coal plants operating in the nation’s largest electricity market.

The study found that the cost of retiring these three plants would be 15 times higher than providing support to keep them operating. The costs from premature retirement would exceed $2 billion per year.

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Californians are paying billions for power they don’t need

Californians are paying billions for power they don’t need

We’re using less electricity. Some power plants have even shut down. So why do state officials keep approving new ones?

Los Angeles Times | IVAN PENN and RYAN MENEZES | Reporting from Yuba City, Calif.

FEB. 5, 2017

The bucolic orchards of Sutter County north of Sacramento had never seen anything like it: a visiting governor and a media swarm — all to christen the first major natural gas power plant in California in more than a decade.

At its 2001 launch, the Sutter Energy Center was hailed as the nation’s cleanest power plant. It generated electricity while using less water and natural gas than older designs.

A year ago, however, the $300-million plant closed indefinitely, just 15 years into an expected 30- to 40-year lifespan. The power it produces is no longer needed — in large part because state regulators approved the construction of a plant just 40 miles away in Colusa that opened in 2010.

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Electricity prices in California rose three times more in 2017 than they did in the rest of the United States

Electricity prices in California rose three times more in 2017 than they did in the rest of the United States

By Mark Nelson and Michael Shellenberger

Between 2016 and 2017, California’s electricity prices rose three times more than they did in the rest of the United States, according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress.

The increases came despite 2017 having had the highest output of hydroelectricity — the state’s cheapest source of electricity — since 2011. Electricity prices in the rest of the United States outside California rose two percent, the same as the rate of inflation.

Between 2011 and 2017, California’s electricity prices rose five times faster than they did nationally. Today, Californians pay 60 percent more, on average, than the rest of the nation, for residential, commercial and industrial electricity.

California’s high penetration of intermittent renewables such as solar and wind are likely a key factor in higher prices. Economists agree that “the dominant policy driver in the electricity sector [in California] has unquestionably been a focus on developing renewable sources of electricity generation.”

California’s RPS increases electricity costs in part by requiring the purchase of renewables even when they cannot be relied on to power the grid, requiring undiminished capacity from the combination of natural gas, hydro, and nuclear power. As a result, California today has a large amount of excess electricity generating capacity without being able to know if much of it will be available from day to day and week to week.

The rising cost of electricity in places with increasing penetration of intermittent renewables was predicted by German economist Lion Hirth. He found that the economic value of wind and solar must decline significantly as they become a larger part of the electricity supply. For example, the value of wind on the European grid drops 40 percent once it becomes 30 percent of electricity, Hirth finds, and the value of solar drops by half when it gets to just 15 percent.

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