The once-great state of California is now in a dire condition. With a heatwave now in full force, Governor Gavin Newsom is preparing to cut energy use, which may result in blackouts, brownouts and water rationing.
How did this happen? Ask any of the state’s legacy media, Democrats, and big green non-profits and the answer you’ll get is “climate despair”. But this does not tell us the whole story. Indeed, a key reason for California’s energy shortfall is the state’s harmful green policies; Jerry Brown’s plans to rebuild the state’s water capacity, for example, elicited a hostile green response from a state commission that refused to consider new dams or desalinisation, let alone spending money on already voter-approved new water storage projects. They are even pressuring Washington to demolish four dams in northern California for not being environmentally pure enough.
A similar dunderheadness extends to energy. For the last twenty years, the state has looked toward “green” energy — solar and wind — as the sole acceptable energy source. But despite billions spent, the state continues to struggle with the intermittent nature of solar and wind power. In order to prevent a total electricity shortfall, Governor Newsom — faced with a potentially devastating energy shortage this summer — was forced to reprieve the Diablo Canyon, the state’s last remaining nuclear plant. He has also allowed some gas plants to remain open.
Things could get worse as the state seeks to go all-electric in the next decade, with the elimination of gas powered cars by 2035. Yet there is little consideration into how California will be able to satisfy the rising demand for the electricity that EVs require. This, remember, in a state that already faces regular power shortages (California imports over 30% of its energy from other locations, and it is by far the nation’s largest net electrical-importing state).
By 2050, state consultants estimate that electrification mandates, including those for trucks, will cause total demand to skyrocket to about 500 million megawatt hours, with some estimates of demand rising 60 to 90%. This will impose high energy costs on ordinary Californians, while Wall Street and tech oligarchs profit from their “clean energy” investments. Incredibly, California is a state with enormous energy reserves, but it refuses to access them on environmental grounds. As a result, it is the largest US importer of energy and oil, much of it from Saudi Arabia and before that Russia.
Most Californians won’t freeze like the Germans or Brits this winter, but the state’s climate policies will keep costs higher, chase away business and immiserate much of the population. This is a tragedy for a state that pioneered modern agriculture, semiconductors, and space travel, but it is the inevitable result of the biggest man-made disaster of them all: Democrats’ green policies.
Read the rest of this piece at UnHerd.
Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.