California is scrambling to find electricity to offset plant closures. The state has a surplus of power, but the closure of coal-fired plants and a shift toward renewables have created a shortage.
California is scrambling to find electricity to offset plant closures, as companies like PG&E and Southern California Edison are struggling with the effects of a prolonged drought.
California is rushing to acquire significant quantities of power in the next years to compensate for the imminent shutdown of fossil-fuel power facilities and a nuclear reactor that supplies almost 10% of the state’s energy.
As the state phases down four natural-gas-fired power facilities and retires Diablo Canyon, the state’s last nuclear facility, beginning in 2024, the California Public Utilities Commission has required utilities to purchase an unprecedented quantity of renewable energy and battery storage.
While the businesses are working fast to secure power contracts, the California Energy Commission and the state’s grid operator have lately voiced concerns that the purchases may not be sufficient to avoid power shortages in the future summers.
Companies including PG&E Corp. PCG 3.99 percent and Edison International’s EIX 1.33 percent Southern California Edison are required to bring more than 14,000 megawatts of electricity production and storage capacity online in the coming years, nearly a third of the state’s forecasted peak summer demand.
This year, California has already struggled to keep the lights on. Power transmission has been hampered by wildfires, and hydropower output has been slowed throughout the West due to a severe drought. Those working on new energy sources say they expect major difficulties in moving quickly enough to guarantee sufficient supply.
At Moss Landing, north of Monterey, a battery storage facility has taken the place of a gas-fired plant.
The Wall Street Journal’s Christie Hemm Klok took this photo.
The state’s predicament highlights the challenges of making a fast shift to cleaner energy sources, as the United States and many other nations have pledged to do in response to climate change concerns. California’s electricity system must be decarbonized by 2045, according to a legislation enacted in 2018.
The California utility commission has been preparing for Diablo Canyon’s retirement since it approved PG&E’s plan to decommission the nuclear plant in 2018. Edward Randolph, executive director for energy and climate policy at the California utility commission, said the body has been preparing for Diablo Canyon’s retirement since it approved PG&E’s plan to decommission the nuclear plant in 2018. However, due to a shift in the quantity of electricity available across the West, the commission has had to modify its plans, he added.
The drought has limited the production of some of the region’s most important power plants, such as the Hoover Dam. Furthermore, several states have taken steps in recent years to shut coal-fired power facilities, limiting the amount of energy California can import when demand spikes due to high temperatures.
Mr. Randolph said, “What has changed drastically is that we have experienced much larger and more West-wide heat waves than ever before.” “Those aren’t part of our planning guidelines.”
Antinuclear campaigners have long opposed the Diablo Canyon facility, and PG&E would have needed to undertake costly seismic safety improvements to renew its federal license with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Instead, in 2016, the business reached an agreement with environmentalists and labor unions to shut down the plant and replace its production with renewable energy.
Property owners in the United States’ windy and sunny regions are fighting large-scale renewable energy projects, which experts believe would delay the shift to a greener economy. Aaron Yoder/Wall Street Journal
State authorities downplayed the effect on supply at the time, claiming they had a decade to find electricity. The two nuclear producing units at Diablo Canyon, which produce a total of 2,250 megawatts of energy, are scheduled to shut down in 2024 and 2025.
The state is also planning for the shutdown of four gas-fired power facilities on the coast of Southern California, which together generate over 3,700 megawatts. The reactors were supposed to shut down last year, but authorities decided to keep one open until 2021 and the other three until 2023, fearing that California might run out of energy on hot days in the evenings, when solar power output drops.
To prepare for possible supply shortfalls, the utilities commission ordered the state’s major power firms, as well as smaller suppliers, to contract for 3,300 megawatts of additional production by 2023. According to an agency assessment, the endeavor is largely on schedule, with small delays in a few projects.
Power companies will have to contract for new supply much quicker in the near future. Between 2023 and 2026, the utilities regulator ordered them to put more than three times as much capacity online. The agency’s largest-ever procurement order asks for 11,500 megawatts of wind and solar production, battery storage, and other carbon-free resources, enough to power about 2.5 million households.
Several times this summer, California’s grid operator, known as Caiso, urged people to save energy and took emergency steps to purchase extra supplies from regional suppliers to minimize the danger of blackouts. To assist relieve the shortfall, the state recently deployed four temporary natural-gas generators to power facilities.
Caiso CEO Elliot Mainzer said the grid operator is trying to assist speed the deployment of additional power, but that the company is prepared to take emergency steps in the future summers, particularly if the drought continues.
“These are tools you hope you’ll never have to use,” he said. “We have to be prepared for it, and we have to have a backup plan in place.”
The build-out of batteries, according to Fong Wan, PG&E’s senior vice president of energy strategy and procurement, would help ease the supply constraint significantly in the coming years. The creation of storage capable of providing electricity for several hours, he added, would be a longer-term problem. The majority of large-scale batteries can only provide power for four hours at best, with longer-duration technology still in its infancy.
As the state tries to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, a power plant in Huntington Beach, Calif., is being phased out.
Leonard Ortiz/Zuma Press/Zuma Press/Zuma Press/Zuma Press/Zuma Press
Mr. Wan said, “We are truly on the leading edge” of quickly increasing renewables. “Along with that, there are certain things we’re learning via trial and error, and in the process, we’re taking some risks.”
PG&E and Southern California Edison recently signed a deal to purchase electricity from Recurrent Energy’s 350-megawatt battery storage project. According to the firm, the project, which will provide electricity for four hours, will be operational next year.
Recurrent’s president and general manager, Michael Arndt, said the firm is optimistic about the California market, but is worried about the time it takes for projects to get grid clearance. The battery storage facility, which is scheduled to go live next year, has been in development since 2015. More than 20 such connection requests were recently submitted in the state by the business.
Mr. Arndt stated, “The interconnection procedure is lengthy, and I’m not sure what the answer is.” “There are so many initiatives that need to be studied, and that takes a long time.”
Katherine Blunt can be reached at [email protected]
Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
California is scrambling to find electricity to offset the plant closures. The state has been relying on natural gas plants, which have been struggling with supply issues. Reference: us decline.
- coal wall street journal
- coal demand
- wall street journal plant-based meat
- coal resurgence
- wsj woke