The war against fossil fuels is a war against reality.
During the recent heat wave, Californians were urged to reduce their use of electricity lest we suffer from widespread rolling blackouts. Included in this request was the directive that electric vehicle owners should forgo charging their vehicles.
As this was occurring, the state Legislature gave the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant a short lease on life because the state was forced to admit that we could not withstand the loss of this single power source, which supplies California with 10% of our electricity.
However, what is not common knowledge is that state-produced natural gas-generated electricity provided upward of 50% of our electricity during that heat wave, and imported natural gas, along with some other fuels that are considered “non-renewable,” generated another 19% of the power that got us through that week of very hot weather.
So please, somebody, do the math!
Whereas, California has pompously pledged to have 100% of its electricity generated by sources other than nuclear, natural gas and other so-called “non-renewable sources,” we are a very long way off from that fantasy.
During extreme weather events like the one that just occurred, “non-renewables” constituted upward of 88% of the energy we needed to survive. Some Californians were nevertheless still subjected to rolling blackouts!
Proving themselves oblivious to the obvious, local jurisdictions, including the Santa Barbara County, are considering piling on with ordinances to eliminate the use of natural gas hookups in new construction, thereby creating even more demand on our scarce electricity supplies. There is also a dirty trick that is typically employed in these types of circumstances. Whereas the headline will read “government bans natural gas hookups in new construction,” the truth is that any business or residence that needs a permit to “add-on” to their existing structure/business could trigger the ban.
Moreover, there are some businesses that can’t afford any source of energy other than natural gas because of the high cost of electricity. This includes the agricultural sector of our economy.
For instance, greenhouses are used to grow a variety of plants including flowers, vegetables, berries, and even marijuana. Most of these greenhouses do double duty. They shield the plants from extreme exposure to the sun during certain times of the year, while during the winter, they facilitate the ability of farmers to use natural gas to keep the plants from freezing at night. The controlled environment of a greenhouse allows a 24-hour growing cycle not available in open field operations — a cycle that has several environmental benefits, including the use of less water for the plants. If natural gas hookups are eliminated, these ag operations will not survive.
What we don’t know yet is if the county’s proposed ban on natural gas will extend to propane and liquified natural gas. Here too, the impacts to rural residents would be devastating because in too many rural locales the electricity service is still considered spotty at best and ridiculously expensive. Also, many manufacturing and ag operations use LNG-fueled forklifts in their operations that have a lower operating cost than electric forklifts and less downtime due to charging requirements.
Finally, hundreds of businesses use natural gas-powered generators, which Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to ban, to keep operations running during blackouts — including hospitals! Santa Barbara County has dozens of these generators as does the state of California.
What are they going to use in an emergency if California bans the production of natural gas, thereby creating artificial shortages and price spikes? If you think we won’t need these generators when we go all solar, the county recently purchased a diesel generator to back up a solar panel complex and a battery storage system because they know these systems can’t be relied upon exclusively!
Andy Caldwell is the COLAB executive director and host of “The Andy Caldwell Show,” airing 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays on KZSB AM 1290, the News-Press radio station.