Biggest solar farm eclipsed

Biggest solar farm eclipsed

Solar_eclipse_1999_4_NR wikimediaSolar was supposed to be the key “renewable energy” powering California away from dirty old fossil fuels and into the Radiant Future. A 2011 law Gov. Jerry Brown signed mandated 33 percent renewable energy by 2020, now just a little over five years way. He actually said when signing the law, “I didn’t get my name, Gov. Moonbeam, for nothing. I earned it!”

It’s not turning out that way.

The latest:

“LOS ANGELES (AP) — The largest solar power plant of its type in the world – once promoted as a turning point in green energy – isn’t producing as much energy as planned.

One of the reasons is as basic as it gets: The sun isn’t shining as much as expected.

Sprawling across roughly 5 square miles of federal desert near the California-Nevada border, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System opened in February, with operators saying it would produce enough electricity to power a city of 140,000 homes.

So far, however, the plant is producing about half of its expected annual output for 2014, according to calculations by the California Energy Commission.

It had been projected to produce its full capacity for 8 hours a day, on average.

The commission cited reasons for the low generation: “Factors such as clouds, jet contrails and weather have had a greater impact on the plant than the owners anticipated.”

That reminded me how the Soviet Union, during its 74 years of existence, every year suffered crop failures for which it blamed “bad weather.” Yet its farms in pre-socialist times, especially the rich earth of Ukraine, had been “the breadbasket of Europe.”

As Wayne Lusvardi has reported on our site, the failure of renewables to generate up to expectations has forced the state to rely on out-of-state fossil fuel power (natural gas and coal) and Warren Buffett’s hydropower.

Shocking costs

All of that, plus a dysfunctional distribution left over from the 2000 Electricity Crisis, means shockingly record high costs for ratepayers. The San Diego Reader reported:

California residential electricity rates are the highest in the nation — by far. A major reason is that the California Public Utilities Commission, the so-called regulator, schmoozes Wall Street, promising to keep the profits of the state’s publicly held utilities — Sempra Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison — higher than utility profits elsewhere. Those profits come out of ratepayers’ pockets.

So Californians have the worst of both capitalism and socialism: crony capitalist (not free market) price structures and socialist generation mandates.


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  1. Jim Reardon
    Jim Reardon 21 November, 2014, 21:33

    If you satiate the rent-seekers, you get no serious challenge from the voters. Life is good for the CPUC, unchallenged by the utilities, while paying the “ratepayer advocates” to exist.

    So long as the money keeps flowing to all these groups, there will be no serious regulation of utilities in California.

    Reply this comment
  2. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 22 November, 2014, 07:56

    Ahem, if I may, it is not Warren Buffet’s hydropower,at least initially, it is the states of Washington and Oregon’s hydropower, harvested (renewably) by the US Federal Government via the Bonneville Power Authority and sold to Pacificorp (owned by Mr. Buffet), who then resells it, at a steep markup, to consumers in California.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 November, 2014, 19:43


    You should kiss Buffet’s ring for even trying to bring technology and clean energy to this high cost of doing business morass.

    It is laughable. Never ever are any doomers complimentry to those who bring positive change to California.

    Reply this comment
    • Bill Gore
      Bill Gore 23 November, 2014, 08:37

      UU: Yes, markup. Buffet isn’t ‘trying’ to do anything. He merely bought a utility that siphons away the northwest’s hydropower to a market (California) that is so schizophrenic with conflicting utopian ideals. And “high cost of doing business morass”, why my dear Ulysses, you’ve been lashed to the mast far too long. The sirens’ song of palm trees and warm winters has now become a screeching cacophony of taxes, regulation and rising fixed costs. You sound like a real doomer. I don’t think Warren Buffet is bringing ‘positive change’ to California anymore than Enron was back in 2000-2001.

      Reply this comment
  4. Larry-Klamath River
    Larry-Klamath River 23 November, 2014, 09:57

    All of these issues can be fixed with dams that provide clean energy, drinking water, and irrigation water. Wind and solar are not the answer, plus they violate every policy the environmentalists stand for. They pollute the wild landscape with their appearance, kill tens of thousands of birds, and remove wildlife habitat. Perhaps they should populate their city parks with these monstrosities rather than the rural landscape and see how they like that.

    Reply this comment

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