It’s the text that could be looked back upon as setting the stage for American power consumers for the coming years.
On Sept. 6, 2022 at 5:45 p.m. in the middle of a blistering string of double-digit days, the California Office of Emergency Services issued a cell phone alert.
The alert read, “Conserve energy now to protect public health and safety. Extreme heat is straining the state energy grid. Power interruptions may occur unless you take action. Turn off or reduce nonessential power if health allows, now until 9 p.m.”
The response was immediate. Within 10 minutes demand fell by 1,200 megawatts.
It pulled California’s back from the edge of the energy abyss.
Golden State bashers at the time labeled it as a “only in California thing.”
They blamed Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democrats in the California Legislature for queuing up the crisis with their full-court press to reduce fossil fuel use quicker than possible.
While there is credence to such a contention, it’s only part of the story.
Power providers across the nation are saying they are going to rely on measures ranging from sending emergency conservation alerts to deliberate outages in the coming winters and summers.
Such moves, in the past have been rare.
Utilities across the nation — in California, Texas and New England — are warning that they could soon become the new norm.
Climate change is getting the blame whether it’s more heat waves or more intense cold in places whether they are the norm or usually the exception.
There is a lot of truth to naming climate change as the culprit.
But the reason it has to do with climate change is how we are reacting to it.
Green zealots would prefer everyone go cold turkey sooner than later.
As such, they managed to get policies in place not just in California but across the nation that are leading to a cutback in carbon-based energy quicker than green energy can be developed and transmitted to replace it.
It is why Newsom — despite what some of his most adherent green critics contend — is trying to be the adult in the room instead of channeling a younger version of 19-year-old Greta Thunberg.
Newsom isn’t stupid. Pulling the plug on Diablo Canyon in 2025 eliminates 10 percent of the state’s electricity production. The drought is eating into hydro power.
And even Thunberg gets you can push too far too fast.
Thunberg — much to the disappointment of the German Green Party — spoke last month in favor of that nation not shutting down its three nuclear power plants that are scheduled to shut down at the end of this year.
The reason is simple. A shortage in power by taking nuclear plants off line now, when coupled with the supply of oil and natural gas being disrupted by the Ukraine War, would require a heavier reliance on coal.
Even after the war ends, Thunberg noted “it depends” whether abandoning nuclear power at that point makes sense, alluding to natural gas is a better alternative to coal.
To recap, a young green activist that many thought was over the top getting into people’s faces and a darling of the green movement, is adult enough to understand going cold turkey has consequences.
It’s not just lacking replacement energy, but is also the question of forcing energy prices to skyrocket when supply falls significantly short of demand.
Transitioning energy production and disruption from fossil-based to green-based can’t be accomplished by government edict only with a drop-dead date cast in stone.
Not only do adequate sources of green power need to be developed but transmission systems to harness them in addition to upgrading existing infrastructure are a critical part of the equation.
At the same time, solar and wind power — which cannot be produced 24/7 — needs a significant storage component in place to become anywhere close as being as reliable as a hydro plant powered by natural gas, nuclear fission and — the scourge of the earth — coal.
A little bit of honesty is needed on both sides.
First, if you’ve lived for the past 30 years in the San Joaquin Valley you know firsthand how bad it was before reformulated gas, catalytic converters and other measures that cut carbon emissions.
Climate change is what has molded the earth for 4.5 billion years. The issue is how much is, or can, man push the needle.
That said, the green movement needs to understand cause and effect.
There is a lot of “environmental” opposition to transmission lines critical to move large amounts of power across regions and state lines to increase capacity and build in redundancy for reliability.
At the same time, objections are raised to solar and wind farms to a lesser degree because they conflict with other components of the overall green agenda.
The free fall shift to green clearly discourages re-investment or investment in fossil fuels.
That was the intent of the mandate. Until, of course, the people pushing the mandate get pushback from irked consumers. At the point they blame oil and power companies for doing what they wanted to force them to do.
There needs to be a mid-course adjustment.
It doesn’t mean changing the destination of 100 percent non-fossil power — or at least as close to that goal as we can get.
What it does mean is avoiding slamming into obvious icebergs in the path to that goal.
Sacrificing those in the bottom deck of the vessel we call “Earth” when a lot of pain and misery can be avoided by making slight course adjustments is inexcusable.
So is abandoning the ultimate destination.
Yet, as winter approaches utilities in New England are warning they may have to deliberately cut off electricity deliveries as there is a real concern there will be inadequate natural gas deliveries needed to generate power to heat homes.
Apply enough pressure to constrict energy produced by natural gas and other fossil fuels as well as nuclear power before adequate green replacement electricity flows, and you will effectively turn green energy edicts into “gangrene energy polices.”