Energy Prices Are Going Up

MAR. 4, 2011

By KATY GRIMES

Renewable energy standards are increasing from 20 percent to 33 percent, “whether you like it or not.” Borrowing  a phrase used by California’s Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, back when he was mayor,  seems the only way to describe what is occurring in the renewable energy debate. It is going to happen regardless of the devastating economic impact it will have on the already economically suffering state.

Democratic Senators Joe Simitian, (Palo Alto), Christine Kehoe (San Diego) and Darrell Steinberg, (Sacramento) have authored another bill to accomplish this: SB X1 2 requires Investor Owned Utilities, Publicly Owned Utilities and Energy Service Providers to increase purchases of renewable energy so that at least 33 percent of retail sales are from renewable energy resources. And this must be accomplished by December 31, 2020.

In the interim, each entity would be required to procure an average of 20 percent of renewable energy for the period of January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2013; 25 percent by December 31, 2016, and 33 percent by 2020.

Simitian, who has taken lead on the bill, was complimented by fellow legislators for his years of work on the renewable energy legislation, and was told that this could be his legacy.

However, no one at the hearing discussed the economics of achieving this level of renewable energy – in a state where we cannot even produce enough electricity for our own use.

In the entire history of energy in California, the state has never been able to create enough electricity to keep up with our own usage. This means that California buys 20 to 30 percent of its energy on the energy market from out-of-state energy sources, which leads to criticism of the stringent renewable energy standards. Many in the state say that increasing renewable energy standards will kill private business, as well as investor owned utilities.

The other catch is that California legislators have imposed regulations on how much of the renewable energy is purchased outside the state, leaving many in the energy business to say that it can’t be done given how much energy we already purchase from other out-of-state sources, and because wind and solar power are not reliable.

At the joint hearing on Thursday of the Assembly committees on Accountability & Administrative Review, and Local Government, Simitian offered his latest bill, after having previous similar bills killed or vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But not everyone on the committee was buying the strict renewable standard.  Said Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, “The high standard will make it even harder to manufacture the materials needed for clean energy in the state. The jobs manufacturing windmill blades, and solar panels are already going out of state or to China. And AB 32 is the same….”

“If Californians are going to pay for the cost of energy and cleaner air, it should be in California – not the rest of the country,” Simitian said. During the hearing, Simitian said that California is going to be the first state in the country to reach the 33 percent renewable energy standard, and insisted that the new standard will create jobs.

Senate staff analysis even said that proponents are in favor of increasing the renewable energy standard because it will “create the necessary pressure to build out the California renewable energy market place, thus creating new jobs.”

But Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, said that in his district, that just is not the case. Gorell said that the rate cap offered in the bill only helps those in the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program, which is a self-certifying, low-rate energy program that ratepayers not in the program have to pay for.

“Californians pay 11 cents per kilowatt hour. Other states pay 4 to 7 cents per kilowatt hour,” said Dorothy Rothrock of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. “And renewable energy will be even more expensive.”

One energy expert who asked to remain off the record, explained that the 11 cents that Californians pay per kilowatt hour is the “blended” price, the price that is made up of long term energy purchases, short term energy purchases and the costly immediate energy purchases. He analogized California’s out-of-state energy purchases to purchasing a plane ticket to London:  If it can be purchased months in advance, it costs much less than a ticket purchase the day before the flight. He said energy purchases are the same way, and California makes s a great deal of last minute out-of-state energy purchases, leading up to the 11-cent price.

Renewables Unrealistic

Several other opponents testified that the increased renewable standard was unrealistic, and even retroactively puts the renewable standards into place, ultimately penalizing energy producers.

And with the restrictions in the bill on how much renewable energy can be purchased out-of-state, several energy company representatives said that it is a violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress, not the state governments, control over interstate commerce; that violation could cause the need for a judicial remedy.

The energy expert I spoke with said that California’s electricity plants are like old machinery: they still run, but are not as efficient as the new technology. Most electricity plants in the state were built between 1947 and 1978. He said it’s like an old car needing to be warmed up before driving, where a new car can be started right up and driven immediately.

But new plant start-ups are difficult and in California, take exorbitant amounts of time with built in timetables and extra costs for litigation, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) restrictions, and permitting for every layer of government (local, state and federal).

And he said we know that wind and solar doesn’t always work, and cannot be counted on. For every megawatt of wind or solar power, there needs to be traditional electrical backup.

Apparently the California condor is also an impediment to wind power as well. The protected condors live near many of California’s wind farms. The same environmentalists who for decades pushed for solar and wind power, are trying to stop wind farms from operating because the condor and several other raptors are killed in the big turbines.

A recent San Francisco Examiner story reported, “At Altamont Pass, where nearly 7000 prop wind turbines choke the landscape, over 1000 birds of prey die each year. One of the most commonly killed species at the Altamont pass wind farm is the turkey vulture.”

So while environmentalists prevent wind and solar farms from operating at full capacity, or prevent new wind and solar farms from being built, legislators are still pushing higher renewable energy standards on energy producers.

And an even bigger danger, say energy experts, is that publicly owned utilities don’t face the same threat as investor owned utilities, which have to make the very expensive investments into plant infrastructure out of profits and operating costs, while public utilities just keep coming back to the Public Utilities Commission to ask for more taxpayer money.

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  1. Paul Felix Schott
    Paul Felix Schott 6 October, 2011, 08:44

    In America we should be
    Putting Solar and Wind Energy to Work and Americans
    we will have a lot more homeless and starving if we do not but American’s To Work
    and all Washington D.C. can to is cry about health care. The Welfare of American’s
    should be first.

    If we can not take care of our Nation how can we help others. Sell them more arms
    so we can have more wars? Then only the arms Manufactures and their friends live well
    and all else on earth suffer.

    Solar, Wind and Renewable Energy will be the Energy of the future for homes and to
    recharge our electric cars and electric trains to run on. SOLAR ENERGY is the fastest
    growing marketed goods on the Planet Earth. Freedom is coming from the Power Grid and
    the Oil CEOs.

    There is not a OIL CEO on this planet Earth That dose not Know
    Solar Energy is by far the fastest growing Industry in the World and has
    more then Doubled last year alone.

    GOD Bless
    for the Good News Solar Energy and other Renewable Energy is the Right Stuff
    to promote Solar Energy is growing like a non stopable weed.

    Home owners World Wide are covering
    there roofs. Solar Energy is not just for Industry or large Corporate
    Businesses and as you say the rich and extravagant.

    Cities and Governments all over Earth are covering there building
    carports at train stations and work places. The rate of return for
    Solar Panels is good and the Industry Leading Warranty is at 25 Years.
    Most spend more then that on cars in that time.

    Even many Churches all over the Planet Earth are going to Solar and covering their roofs
    with PV Panels that turn solar Energy from the Sun into Electricty.

    Solar Energy is Environmentally Friendly and Very Efficient. Soon Electric
    Vehicles will out number those that need oil to drive down a highway or road,
    in most of the Cities on Earth.

    Electric cars and Vehicles will be Recharging from Solar, Wind and Renewable
    Energy. The surplus of Electric not used will then be used to split water into Hydrogen.
    Happy to say in a very short time the need for black gold OIL will come to a end for most.

    Our Homes will get Energy from the Sun and wind and charge Batteries or to
    be used to split ground water into Hydrogen and Oxygen gases. Then put into
    tanks in the carport or yard and a Hydrogen Generator will produce energy
    similar to a gas, oil or diesel generator when needed. Like at Night or when
    there is no wind or sunlight.

    The United States, Germany and China all have for years worked on a
    Hydrogen Electric Vehicles. Knowing Solar Energy will very soon make them very affordable.
    i have driven them all.

    In a place that seams like paradise Hawaii would be a better place to get
    more out of a Solar Energy Systems. You are closer to the sun in Hawaii.
    I am very Glad to say that is just what, The United States military has gone to. Solar Energy
    this year 2011 in The State of Hawaii in a Very Big way. With the Air force front runner
    F-22 Hanger and Maintenance Building, the Navy two biggest buildings and the largest solar covered
    housing unit in the World.

    This is just the start to the D.O.D. /
    The Department of Defense reducing its 4 billion dollar need for Dirty Energy.

    Not funny but even the OIL CEOs have started to build Solar Farms, Thats Right in the Desert.

    The Roof pitch used to identify the slope or steepness by roofing contractors,
    architects and other building professionals and the way the roof faces North, South,
    East or West is going to be the two biggest factors to the output of a Solar Energy Systems.
    Many Engineering companies have gone into using solar in new constrution.

    The rest if you call or e mail one of the many Solar Energy Business in the United States
    i am sure they will be more then happy to help or work with you. Or go to one of the
    Government sites or Centers like…

    Information on the Renewable Energy and energy efficiency research, education,
    training, and certification activities at the Florida Solar Energy Center, FSEC.

    My Good Noble friend Bill Young is the Senior Research Engineer for Photovoltaics
    at FSEC and in my eyes one of the best Solar Energy Scientist in the World truly
    a blessing to have worked for years with Mr. William Young a Goodwill Ambassador
    for Solar Energy.

    You want to help others and the Planet plant a tree or two and start planing to cut the power
    to the power grid and install solar Energy on your home office and car ports. If to poor to
    do so encourage others to do so and tell your Government Leaders to use it on all
    new Government buildings. Solar, Wind and Renewable Energy.

    We all need to urge Congress and all government leaders around the Globe to support Solar, Wind
    and Renewable Energy. Electric Vehicle growth, and Charging Stations at our Homes
    and work places.

    The day will come soon for most on Earth when we can recharge at our own homes
    from the SUN above not the power grid. Eliminating the need to go to a gas station, when
    traveling to and from work or school. The Oil CEOs already know this.

    Every body needs a little Encouragement from time to time or now and then. Do not be Bitter
    be helpful to others.

    GOD Bless you all

    The Lord’s Little Helper
    Paul Felix Schott
    [email protected]

    PS
    The Welfare OF all on Earth is at stake this coming year 2012 more then 100 million will be
    with out enough FOOD to stay healthy.
    All That Live on this planet should Look to help others not make war.
    Judgement day for all will come soon enough.

    Reply this comment

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