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California’s Renewable Energy Conundrum

California’s Renewable Energy Conundrum

Amid a heatwave in the West, the largest U.S. solar state, California, is grappling with power issues and with keeping its electricity grid stable as demand exceeds supply. And in a looming renewable future, those power disruptions just might be a sign of things to come.

California energy consumers were warned of rolling outages as there is insufficient energy to meet the high demand during the heatwave, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) said over the weekend.

The warning to Californians about the outages and strained grid should serve as a warning for policymakers and system operators across the United States and elsewhere: a rush to boost renewable energy power generation should be coupled with – and even preceded by – more careful planning on how to ensure the reliability and stability of the power grid.

California’s Struggles With Power Reliability

In the case of California, where solar power supplies more than 20 percent of electricity as per the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the rolling outages this week were the worst such outages since the 2000-2001 energy crisis in the state.

Some blame the current power crisis on California’s aggressive renewable energy rollout and retirement of natural gas-powered plants. Others say that there is a way for the state to reconcile renewables with reliability, although this would not come in the near term and certainly not soon enough to help with the current power supply issues.

It would seem that California has put the renewable cart before the proverbial horse.

The blame game and the debate about how exactly to cope with reliability in a heavily renewable power grid highlight the fact that meeting clean energy goals and reducing emissions should be made only after careful planning on how to ensure reliable power supply to customers and how to prepare the grid for an increased share of solar and wind power.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California Wildfires Cover 1 Million Acres In A Week As Storms Expected To Fan Flames

In the course of just one week, wildfires blazing across the state of California have burned through nearly one million acres statewide, destroying hundreds of homes ahead of an expected storm system heading toward the state that could bring more high winds and lightning strikes.

Two clusters of wildfires in the Bay Area have grown to become the second- and third-largest wildfires in recent state history by size.

Light winds and cooler and more humid nighttime weather helped fire crews make progress on those fires and a third group of fires south of San Francisco ahead of the forecast of warm, dry weather, erratic wind gusts and lightning, state fire officials said.

Weary firefighters in California raced Saturday to slow the spread of the blazes as President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration to provide federal assistance. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement that the declaration will also help people in counties affected by the fires with crisis counseling, housing and other social services.

Calm weather overnight allowed firefighters to make progress against a trio of massive wildfires burning in Northern California, but they were bracing for a weather system Sunday that will bring high winds and thunderstorms that could spark new fires and fan existing blazes that destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and other structures and forced tens of thousands to evacuate.

Source: The Guardian

The “complexes,” or groups of fires, burning on all sides of the San Francisco Bay Area, were initially sparked  by lightning strikes – some of roughly 12,000 strikes registered in the state in the past week. The National Weather Service issued a “red flag” warning through Monday afternoon for the drought-stricken areas across the Bay Area, meaning extreme fire conditions, including high temperatures, low humidity and wind gusts up to 65 mph “may result in dangerous and unpredictable fire behavior.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rolling blackouts in California show how reliance on solar and wind power can backfire

Image: Rolling blackouts in California show how reliance on solar and wind power can backfire
(Natural News) California issued its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years last week as the state’s grid operator tried to keep the power system from complete collapse in the midst of a heat wave, and some are pointing out that the situation demonstrates the failures of green energy.

The rolling blackouts affected upwards of 2 million Californians. Many of the outages took place in the afternoon, when power demand peaked as people starting turning up their air conditioning at the same time that solar power supplies started slowing down as the sun set.

The state’s three biggest utilities – Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric – cut off power to homes and businesses for roughly an hour at a time until the close of an emergency declaration, and this was followed by a second outage.

On top of that, erratic output from the state’s wind farms failed to make up the gap. Around a third of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources thanks to state law mandates, and these alternatives proved incapable of keeping up during peak power usage. In the past, utilities and grid operators in the state bought extra electricity from other states when it fell short, but the vast size of the heat wave meant that other states were also reaching their limits and had none to spare.

Governor Gavin Newsom ordered an investigation into the outages seen in the state over the weekend, vowing to uncover the cause. However, Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno, who serves as the Committee on Utilities and Energy’s Vice Chair, said that the problem can be traced to California’s reduced dependence on natural gas.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rolling Blackouts, Prolonged Heatwave, And ‘Fire-nados’ Sends California To The Brink   

Californians flocked to beaches, recreation areas, and lakes this past weekend to seek relief from one of the most extreme heat waves in a generation, straining the state’s power grid to the brink of collapse, reported Bloomberg.

The heatwave brought triple-digit temperatures to parts of California over the last three days and sparked concerns of fiery tornados on Saturday.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Weather Prediction Center (WPC) tweeted temperatures from Death Valley, a desert valley in Eastern California, in the northern Mojave Desert, reached 130F, the first time since 1913.

Scorching temperatures were so intense, the state’s electrical grid warned of a continuous electricity supply shortage for Sunday into Monday and Tuesday.

California Independent System Operator (California ISO) had purchased additional power to prevent another rolling blackout and issued a Flex Alert, urging customers to reduce energy in the afternoons.

Severin Borenstein, a board member of the ISO and energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, told SFGate that rolling outages are expected to continue early this week:

“There is a real concern that they would have to do it again tomorrow and Tuesday,” he said Sunday about the rolling outages.

We noted Saturday that rolling blackouts started Friday when the state’s power reserves had fallen below a critical threshold due to elevated temperatures increased demand for power. The grid issued a “Stage 3 Grid Emergency,” which triggered the “load interruption.”

According to ABC News, this is the first round of “Stage 3” blackouts facing the state since the 2000-2001 energy crisis that forced the state’s largest utility – PG&E – into bankruptcy and led to the ouster of former Gov Gray Davis.

The blistering heat was also a major concern for firefighters battling several wildfires in Northern California.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California Forced Into Rolling Blackouts As Heatwave Sparks First “Stage 3” Energy Crisis In 20 Years

While the rest of the country was distracted by the stimulus talks and the ongoing coronavirus situation, another deadly wildfire season has begun in California. And with the state’s prison population in the grips of an uncontrolled outbreak that has left thousands sickened and under quarantine orders – making them ineligible to fight fires – a dangerous heat wave is gripping the state, accelerating the spread of wildfires that broke out earlier this week, while also creating the state’s first “Stage 3” energy crisis in 20 years.

The relentless heat wave is expected to endure until mid-week, and is sending temperatures soaring to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, exacerbating the fire situation and forcing millions of Californians to endure rolling blackouts.

The situation is compounding Californians’ problems as a particularly dangerous time as hundreds of COVID patients depend on ventilators to breath. As officials issue warnings about energy use, strain on the grid due to air conditions and fans are threatening to cause a repeat of Friday’s rolling blackout over the weekend.

Friday’s blackout started at around 1830PT when California’s grid operator determined that the state’s power reserves had fallen below a critical threshold. The operator then called a “Stage 3 Grid Emergency”, which triggered the “load interruption” – aka the blackouts.

According to ABC Newsthis is the first round of “Stage 3” blackouts facing the state since the 2000-2001 energy crisis that forced the state’s largest utility – PG&E – into bankruptcy, and led to the ouster of former Gov Gray Davis. One key difference this time around is that PG&E is already in bankruptcy and pleading guilty to manslaughter.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

YouTube Censors Viral Video of Doctors Criticizing ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order

YouTube Censors Viral Video of Doctors Criticizing ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order

Deleted after racking up over 5 million views.

YouTube has censored a viral video in which two doctors criticized the logic of whether California’s stay-at-home coronavirus order is necessary.

The video, which had racked up over 5 million views, featured Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi, co-owners of Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, Calif.

In the clip, Erickson asserts that there is only a “0.03 chance of dying from COVID in the state of California,” prompting him to ask, “Does that necessitate sheltering in place? Does that necessitate shutting down medical systems? Does that necessitate people being out of work?”

Erickson also asked why fatalities were being counted as COVID-19 deaths when other ailments were actually more to blame.

“When someone dies in this country right now, they’re not talking about the high blood pressure, the diabetes, the stroke. They’re saying ‘Did they die from COVID?’” Erickson said. “We’ve been to hundreds of autopsies. You don’t talk about one thing, you talk about comorbidities. ER doctors now [say] ‘It’s interesting when I’m writing about my death report, I’m being pressured to add COVID. Why is that?”

The video was deleted late last night for “violating YouTube’s terms of service.”


Daniel Horowitz✔@RMConservative

Is it just me or did @YouTube take down Dr. Erickson’s viral video with 5 million views? https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=xfLVxx_lBLU&feature=emb_title … YouTube at 🏠 ‎@YouTube


Earlier this month, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN that the company would ban any video content that contradicted World Health Organization recommendations.

However, Wojcicki suggested that this would mainly be focused on banning information about fake cures, not questioning of government policy.

The video platform has also set about banning any content that claims 5G cell towers are linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Trump Faces An Impossible Trade-Off”: Why A Global Recession Is Now Inevitable

“Trump Faces An Impossible Trade-Off”: Why A Global Recession Is Now Inevitable

With California reporting late on Friday that a second coronavirus case of “unknown origin” has been uncovered, prompting Santa Claria’s Health Department to caution that “now is the time to prepare for the possibility of widespread community transmission” echoing similar warnings from the CDC, the Trump administration’s response to what now appears an inevitable surge in US-based coronavirus cases is becoming an increasingly politicized topic, and not without justification: after all, it is hardly a secret that Trump’s favorite “job approval” barometer has been the stock market – which hit an all time high as recently as last week – and it is also hardly a secret that Trump hardly wishes to inspire a stock market panic by disclosing the full extent and severity of any potential domestic epidemic (which ironically, aligns Trump ideologically with China, which is now willing to sacrifice its population in the pursuit of restarting the Chinese economy).


President Trump on the coronavirus: “We made a decision very early to close up our borders to certain areas of the world and we did that so we are hopefully getting lower from [15].”


Yet the more Trump, or various domestic institutions, appears evasive over the full extent of the corona crisis inside the US, the more markets get hit. Worse, the longer Trump avoids addressing the potential domestic epidemic, the more likely it is that the market crash that saw stocks plunge this week at the fastest rate since the financial crisis, will persist.

This brings us to an absolutely spot-on observation made by Bank of America’s rates strategist Ralf Preusser, who explains why for Trump, and US stocks, it may only get worse, before it gets even worse. That reason is that markets now seem to be taking the view that authorities – i.e., Trump – face an impossible trade-off:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bottled Water Company Admits Dumping Deadly Arsenic Into CA’s Ecosystem—Nobody Goes To Jail

arsenic

Bottled Water Company Admits Dumping Deadly Arsenic Into CA’s Ecosystem—Nobody Goes To Jail

Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water’s bottled parent company, CG Roxane, LLC, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful storage of hazardous waste and one count of unlawful transportation of hazardous material on January 9th. Yet, to date, not one person has spent one night in jail for releasing thousands of gallons of arsenic into California’s wastewater system.

Elemental arsenic and arsenic sulfate and trioxide compounds are classified as “toxic” and “dangerous for the environment” in the European Union under directive 67/548/EEC. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recognizes arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds as group 1 carcinogens, and the EU lists arsenic trioxide, arsenic pentoxide, and arsenate salts as category 1 carcinogens.

This extremely dangerous and potentially deadly practice of dumping the arsenic into the California ecosystem has essentially gone unpunished.

The company earns nearly $50 million per year in revenue from its spring water but was slapped on the wrist, some might say, with a $5 million penalty for discharging arsenic tainted water back into the ecosystem. The legal problems started for Crystal Geyser when it sourced spring water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains nearly two decades ago.

That water was and still is poisoned with arsenic as is much of the water in Western states. The company used sand filters to remove the arsenic. But in an effort to increase the filters’ effectiveness the company washed out the sand filters with chemicals, removing the build-up of arsenic, and releasing it into an outdoor holding pond. Yes, that’s right folks. They filtered out the arsenic, and then put it right back into the ecosystem in a concentrated form.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“It’s Not Sustainable:” PG&E Rolling Blackouts To Hit 181,000 Customers Wednesday

“It’s Not Sustainable:” PG&E Rolling Blackouts To Hit 181,000 Customers Wednesday 

Seriously, every time the wind blows in California, it transforms into a third world country with rolling blackouts. And if you’ve ever been to let’s say South America where this happens frequently, it’s not a pleasant thing to experience. 

So Californians will get another taste of what it’s like to live in Venezuela or Argentina on Wednesday. Nearly 181,00 customers in Northern California on early Wednesday will see their power cutoff so that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) can avoid sparking another deadly wildfire. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) posted “red flag warnings” for parts of the Bay Area, Sacramento, Paradise, and even up to Redding. 

Ford Unveils the Mustang Mach-E

Northly winds are expected to be in the 40-55 mph range, with some gusts over 55 mph, which could damage electric lines and spark wildfires, one of the main reasons why PG&E wants to cut power. 

PG&E published a community resource map of certain facilities that residents can use for WiFi, bathrooms, and food during the rolling blackout. 

PG&E has conducted several rolling blackouts since Sept., which at one point left millions of residents in the dark for days while the electric company shutdown large transmission lines to avoid electrical fires during a windstorm. 

The bankrupted utility company has been extra careful about preventing blazes during windstorms since deadly fires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018 are expected to cost $30 billion. 

“We all know it’s not sustainable — it’s not where we want to be,” Andy Vesey, PG&E’s chief of utility operations, said Tuesday. But at this point in time, it’s the situation that we are faced with.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Power Shutoffs: Playing with Fire

Power Shutoffs: Playing with Fire

California’s fire season is back. Yet if this past week is any indication, our emergency response remains woefully inadequate.  When disaster strikes we are far from being energy resilient, ensuring reliable access to electricity for our most vulnerable communities.

Climate fires are California’s new normal.  Dangerous combinations of high (20-60 mph) sustained winds and tinderbox drought conditions wreaked havoc throughout the state last week.  Massive evacuations from the Saddleridge fire in northwest Los Angeles and the Reche Fire in Moreno Valley spared life, if not property, from thousands of acres of burning land. 

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) took pre-emptive measures.  They shut off power in over 30 counties in northern California.  In this way, they avoided a repeat of the 2018 fire season, the state’s deadliest, in which electrical equipment was blamed for conflagrations that killed 85 people and destroyed 19,000 homes.  

But the shutoffs were a disaster of another kind.  They left close to a million people and more than half the counties in the state without power, or recourse, for nearly a week.   

The PG&E power shutoffs were a colossal failure, according to utility and elected officials, local agencies, and residents.   The disruption was widespread:  accidents caused by failed street lights, schools closed, businesses idled, food supplies and basic services – public transit and water – compromised.   And as premeditated as this emergency response was, residents were left in the dark; not just from the power outage, but from the lack of information.  No one could get information about what to expect or what to do in a power emergency.   PG&E’s communication and computer systems crashed, their website went down, their community resource centers were underprepared and useless.  The shutoff prevented fires, but not the burn; everyone fumed.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Has the climate crisis made California too dangerous to live in?

Has the climate crisis made California too dangerous to live in?

As with so many things, Californians are going first where the rest of us will follow .

The San Francisco skyline is shrouded in smoke from wildfires in the north part of the state.
 The San Francisco skyline is shrouded in smoke from wildfires in the north part of the state. Photograph: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Associated Press

Monday morning dawned smoky across much of California, and it dawned scary – over the weekend winds as high as a hundred miles an hour had whipped wildfires through forests and subdivisions.

It wasn’t the first time this had happened – indeed, it’s happened every year for the last three – and this time the flames were licking against communities destroyed in 2017. Reporters spoke to one family that had moved into their rebuilt home on Saturday, only to be immediately evacuated again.

The spectacle was cinematic: at one point, fire jumped the Carquinez Strait at the end of San Francisco Bay, shrouding the bridge on Interstate 80 in smoke and flame.

Even areas that didn’t actually burn felt the effects: Pacific Gas and Electric turned off power to millions, fearful that when the wind tore down its wires they would spark new conflagrations.Advertisement

Three years in a row feels like – well, it starts to feel like the new, and impossible, normal. That’s what the local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, implied this morning when, in the middle of its account of the inferno, it included the following sentence: the fires had “intensified fears that parts of California had become almost too dangerous to inhabit”. Read that again: the local paper is on record stating that part of the state is now so risky that its citizens might have to leave.

On the one hand, this comes as no real surprise. My most recent book, Falter, centered on the notion that the climate crisis was making large swaths of the world increasingly off-limits to humans. Cities in Asia and the Middle East where the temperature now reaches the upper 120s – levels so high that the human body can’t really cool itself; island nations (and Florida beaches) where each high tide washes through the living room or the streets; Arctic villages relocating because, with sea ice vanished, the ocean erodes the shore.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is California’s Second Biggest Utility On Verge Of Collapse Next: Edison Plunges After Saying It May Be Responsible For Deadly 2018 Fire

Is California’s Second Biggest Utility On Verge Of Collapse Next: Edison Plunges After Saying It May Be Responsible For Deadly 2018 Fire

With California’s largest utility, PG&E,  now bankrupt after starting the deadliest fire in California history, and cutting power to its customers at the mere hint of a windstorm that could leave it exposed to more multi-billion lawsuits, leaving millions in the dark, California’s second largest utility, Edison, may soon be insolvent too.

The stock of Edison International, which is California’s second biggest electricity provider through its Southern California Edison subsidiary, which distributes electricity to 5.1 million customers in central, coastal, and southern California, collapsed after the close when the company reported in its earnings call that California investigators concluded equipment owned by Edison International’s utility caused one of the most destructive fires in state history, which killed three people and burned down entire sections of Malibu.

California county fire officials said that the Woolsey Fire, which raged for weeks in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in November 2018, was sparked by the utility’s electrical equipment, Edison CEO Pedro Pizarro said in a call with investors on Tuesday.

EIX shares plunged as much as 19% to $52.75 in after-hours trading before modestly recovering some losses to trade at $62.95. Edison investors had expected the company would be blamed for the fire.

The finding comes as California grapples with a wildfire crisis that’s pushed the state’s largest utility, PG&E Corp., into bankruptcy.

While the company said earlier this year that it believed equipment owned by its Southern California Edison utility may be cited as the cause, and it took a $4.7 billion charge in connection to wildfires in 2017 and 2018, the question now is whether that charge will be sufficient, and whether the company may in fact follow PG&E into the abyss of insolvency as it scramble to file for protection from mounting lawsuits.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California’s Blackouts Are Part Of A Far Bigger Problem

California’s Blackouts Are Part Of A Far Bigger Problem

California Blackouts

This past weekend, Pacific Gas & Electric had to resume electricity blackouts to 930,000 customers affecting upwards of three million people around San Francisco. Meanwhile, two major wildfires, one of which may have been caused by malfunctioning utility equipment, are burning and evacuations are underway. PG&E has informed customers that power in the affected areas may be out for up to one week.

It would not be overstating the case to talk about an air of crisis or panic in the state. Unfortunately, good ideas to resolve difficult, thorny issues seldom arise in troubled circumstances. And California’s Governor Newsom provides us with a ready case in point.

Yesterday Bloomberg News reported that the California Governor was interested in a takeover of PG&E by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Corp. On its face, it sounds logical in several ways. First, Berkshire already owns utilities serving California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah. Wyoming and Idaho. PG&E would fit in. Second, Buffet notoriously has told investors to buy when there is “blood on the streets”, that is, where the investment outlook looks bleak and most investors stay away, fearful of principal risk. Presumably, the governor envisages Berkshire purchasing the PG&E’s equity at a steeply discounted price, replacing a considerable portion of the utility’s outstanding long-term debt and appointing new senior management and a new Board of Directors.

There is one difficulty here in viewing Mr. Buffett as a potential financial white knight riding to California’s rescue. The current crisis is caused by an extensive above-ground high voltage transmission network sparking wildfires in an increasingly arid environment. Stated differently, the world that this transmission system was built for no longer exists. This is a profound operational problem.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Diablo Winds” Are Ferociously Whipping “Out Of Control” Wildfires Across Vast Stretches Of Northern California

“Diablo Winds” Are Ferociously Whipping “Out Of Control” Wildfires Across Vast Stretches Of Northern California

Why does this keep happening to California year after year?  As you read this article, enormous wildfires are ravaging large portions of northern California, and Governor Gavin Newsom has already declared a statewide emergency.  An extreme wind event that began on Saturday evening is pushing the fires along at a staggering rate, and when the winds are howling this ferociously it is exceedingly difficult for firefighters to keep the fires from spreading.  It was being reported that on Sunday morning there were sustained winds exceeding 90 mph in northern California with “gusts that topped 100 mph”.  It was the strongest wind event in several years, and it came at an extremely unfortunate time.  These “hurricane-force Diablo winds” will continue into Monday morning, but that doesn’t mean that things will start to get better.  As you will see below, another extreme wind event is in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Kincade Fire is the largest of the wildfires, and according to ABC News it has now “grown to 85 square miles”…

California Fire officials say a rapidly moving fire in Northern California wine country has grown to 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) and destroyed 94 buildings.

Cal Fire spokesman Jonathan Cox called the conditions throughout California “a tinderbox” Sunday and asked people to continue being vigilant in helping to prevent fires from breaking out.

That is an absolutely massive wildfire, and the extremely strong winds are picking up embers from the Kincade Fire and starting blazes in new areas.

The following is what Cal Fire Captain Robert Foxworthy told reporters on Sunday morning

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California Fires Spark Massive Mandatory Evacuations; Wineries Burn As Winds Hit 93 MPH

California Fires Spark Massive Mandatory Evacuations; Wineries Burn As Winds Hit 93 MPH

California’s annual wildfires are back despite a series of planned power outages aimed at preventing them – the latest of which is expected to affect as many as 3 million people across huge swaths of the state.

The most intense fires raged through Sonoma County, with some 180,000 residents ordered to evacuate.

“The next 72 hours will be challenging,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Saturday. “I could sugarcoat it, but I will not.”

Josh Edelson/Getty Images

As of midnight, Sonoma County resembled a disaster zone.


Approx 180,000 people under evacuation order due to #KincadeFire. This is the largest evacuation that any of us at the Sheriff’s Office can remember. Take care of each other.


Latest Evacuation map. Mandatory evacuations have been expanded and now include much of western and northern Santa Rosa. For most up-to-date map:http://bit.ly/2PlbvDp 

#CAwx #CAFire #KincadeFire

View image on Twitter

Highway 101 was closed indefinitely through Santa Rosa as wind gusts of up to 93 mph were reported by the National Weather Servicein Healdsburg Hills in the northern part of the county. That said, the NWS now reports that the winds will “start to reduce compared to the peak experienced in the last few hours, but remain strong today with a ramp up tonight.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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