California leaders’ energy dreams meet reality—as experts say the West Coast’s recent heatwave underscores the need for all-of-the-above sources of energy, according to POLITICO Pro (subscription).
What’s going on: “The 10 days of triple-digit temperatures across the state this month sent power demand surging to a record level, bringing state regulators close to ordering rolling blackouts, a potentially deadly move and a political disaster. … What’s needed now, officials say, is even more investment by the state akin to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.”
- California recently decided to postpone the closure of its last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, and several natural gas–fired facilities, as energy demand surged in tandem with rising temperatures.
- Diablo Canyon provides as much as 10% of the state’s power.
What it means: The “fickle nature” of current renewables, coupled with growing energy demand, means that California is unlikely to achieve its mandate of using 100% emissions-free power sources by 2045.
- “Renewables provided 36 percent of the state’s power supply on average so far this year. … Now, by a state estimate, California will need to deploy renewable energy at five times its average pace to meet its … goal.”
Another issue: Though in 2021 state energy regulators ordered utilities to add more clean energy sources to the grid over the next three years, “getting the solar panels and wind turbines built and plugged in depends largely on the whims of the global economy.”
- Supply chain challenges have delayed many of the renewables projects state energy officials had been counting on.
- While those same officials want offshore wind to produce a quarter of California power by 2045, “even the most optimistic people acknowledge that those wind turbines won’t start producing power for the grid until at least 2029—right before Diablo Canyon’s new closure date.”