The editors of the Wall Street Journal are chortling over the predicament in which the State of California has placed its residents:
Californians are learning to live like the Amish after investor-owned utility PG&E this week shut off power to two million or so residents to prevent wildfires amid heavy, dry winds. Blame the state’s largest blackout on a perfect storm of bad policies.
Two dozen or so wildfires in the past few years have been linked to PG&E equipment, including one last fall that killed 85 people. PG&E under state law is on the hook for tens of billions of dollars in damages and has filed for bankruptcy. For years the utility skimped on safety upgrades and repairs while pumping billions into green energy and electric-car subsidies to please its overlords in Sacramento. Credit Suisse has estimated that long-term contracts with renewable developers cost the utility $2.2 billion annually more than current market power rates.
PG&E customers pay among the highest rates in America. But the utility says inspecting all of its 100,000 or so miles of power lines and clearing dangerous trees would require rates to increase by more than 400%. California’s litigation-friendly environment has also increased insurance rates for tree trimmers and made it hard to find workers.
Meantime, opposition to logging and prescribed burns in California’s forests compounded by a seven-year drought has yielded 147 million dead trees that make for combustible fuel. Rural communities are at especially high fire risk when winds kick up as they have this week.
To avoid more damage, PG&E announced this week that it would cut power across 34 counties in Central and Northern California as long as there are sustained winds of 25 miles an hour and gusts of 45 miles an hour. After winds subside, the utility says it may take several days to inspect equipment before power returns, and there could be more blackouts this fall.
I wonder what the carbon emissions of several million gasoline-power generators is? I wonder when the state will prohibit their sale and/or possession?
Here’s the part of the editorial I found interesting:
A report this week by Next 10 and Beacon Economics warns that the state isn’t on target to meet its climate goals in 2030 because Californians refuse to abandon SUVs for electric cars. Wildfires last year produced more CO2 than the state’s businesses, homes and farms, offsetting state emission reductions in 2017 nine times over.
which highlights a debate I’ve had over the years. Assuming arguendo that carbon emissions produce climate change, it doesn’t make a bit of difference what the source of the emissions are—electrical power generation, transportation, cement production, running backup generators, or forest fires.
If you’re worried about climate change due to carbon emissions and neither nuclear power nor carbon capture figure in your plans to reduce carbon emissions, I don’t believe you’ve thought the matter through. Every baseload power generation method whether solar, wind, or nuclear requires backup generation capability and that is generally accomplished by burning fossil fuels.