In its never-ending war to demonstrate political correctness in the era of “climate change,” California lawmakers are demonstrating their ignorance of economics and resource allocation and angering voters across the nation in the process.

Just last year, the California legislature enacted a law that requires the state to obtain all of its electricity from “clean” sources – wind, solar, hydro – by 2045, with shorter term goal of 60 percent renewable by 2030. One has to wonder how the state is going to meet what promises to be a massive increase in energy demand just 25 years from now.

The California Energy Commission estimated that the state will consume 301,525 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity in 2020 – and that’s the lowball estimate! Just four years ago, the Golden State was importing a third of its electricity, and 44 percent of its electrical energy generation was from oil, coal, and natural gas.

California, however, is still the nation’s third largest producer of oil and natural gas. One wonders if and when the state will stop issuing operating permits for these facilities, which generate significant revenues and provide thousands of jobs for Californians.

Also in 2018, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D, San Francisco) introduced a bill that would have banned the sale and registration of new passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks powered by internal combustion engines beginning in 2040. Though that bill died, the 2020 state budget empowers the California Energy Commission to conduct a study of how to move the state toward 100 percent electric vehicles by 2040.

Currently, only about 3 percent of the 26 million passenger vehicles in California are personal electric vehicles. How is California going to generate enough electricity within 20 years to power 23 million more personal vehicles? The California Energy Commission notes that 15.1 billion gallons of gasoline and 4.2 billion gallons of diesel fuel were sold in the state in 2015. That’s a boatload of energy that will have to be replaced with wind and solar electricity.

Moreover, while some believe these bans will result in Californians driving existing internal combustion engines as long as they can be operated, one wonders at what point in time California will ban the SALE of gasoline and diesel fuel.

Earlier this year, progressive Berkeley banned the construction of natural gas lines to single-family homes, town homes, and small apartment buildings starting in January 2020; the ban will be extended to commercial buildings and larger residential structures once the state developes, develop regulations. Several other California cities have followed suit, and the trend is likely to continue.

Jacques Leslie, who was a war correspondent for the Los Angeles Times during the Vietnam war, stated flatly in a LA Times op ed that, “California has set a climate mandate of 100% clean, renewable energy by 2045. It won’t reach that goal unless it eliminates natural gas from buildings.” Leslie went on to assert that, “Now that regulations aimed at the 2045 mandate are in place for cars, trucks, and coal-fired power, natural gas has to be next. The popular image of gas cooking and heating — clean, cheap and reliable, a “bridge fuel” from coal to renewables — requires drastic revision. Natural gas is in fact the new coal.”

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, about 12 million California homes have gas stoves and/or furnaces. Natural gas consumption in the state in 2018 totaled 2,136,907 million cubic feet (Mcf), of which 614,722 Mcf went for electric power generation, 766,415 Mcf to industrial users, 423,915 Mcf to residential users, and 248,012 to commercial users. That is a whopping amount of energy that will have to be replaced with wind and solar electricity.

To jumpstart the state’s intoxicating goals for zero emissions, California in November announced it would no longer buy sedans powered solely by internal combustion engines and will purchase only plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles. SUV’s, trucks, and certain public safety vehicles are exempt – for now. The state further announced it would only purchase vehicles from automakers that recognize the California Air Resources Board’s authority to set tough greenhouse gas standards for vehicles – Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda.

This decision is a declaration of war against General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and other automakers that are seeking to become a party to a legal battle between the Trump Administration and California over whether the state can set auto emission rules for itself.

Curiously, one week after this announcement, California motorists reported they had to wait in a half-mile-long line for hours to recharge their ZEV Teslas at the Kettleman City recharging station halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on Interstate 5, even though the station has 40 individual charging points. A day earlier a video entitled ‘Tesla Energy Crisis’ revealed a sizable line of 15 Teslas waiting for their turn at a supercharger station in San Luis Obispo on Thanksgiving Day.

But if you think waiting in line for hours just to get home from a weekend outing is tough, imagine trying to recharge your electric vehicle during one of Pacific Gas & Electric’s intentional rolling blackouts, one of which reportedly affected 700,000 California households – and which PG&E promises may be needed for years to come as part of their fire prevention plan?

California’s commitment to 100 percent renewable electricity – no natural gas, no coal, no oil, and no nuclear power (the state’s lone nuclear power plant will sunset in 2021) — violates the maxim popularized in 1605 by Miguel Cervantes, “It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.”

Author

  • Duggan Flanakin is the Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. A former Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas. A brief history of his multifaceted career appears in his book, "Infinite Galaxies: Poems from the Dugout."