Movers and SHAKERS
California’s Electric Grid to Add Five New Gas-Powered Plants
Five new natural gas-powered generators will be installed in California as energy supply concerns in the state keep mounting. According to the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) announcement, the state will be temporarily expanding natural gas-generated power by adding new power plants to meet growing concerns.
The CDWR announcement, made last Thursday (August 19), states California has decided to, on a temporary basis, install the new generating capability in existing power plants. Each generator is expected to be able to produce up to 30 megawatts of power for a combined total of 150 megawatts at full capacity. According to the announcement, this is enough additional generating ability to power roughly 25,000 homes. All five new generators are expected to be online around mid-September.
Expectations for the addition of new gas-powered plants had been increasing over the last several months, according to an article in The California Globe. Last year the state experienced rolling blackouts during the summer months when energy use is typically highest. These were the first production-related blackouts in 20 years.
California has been reducing its reliance on fossil fuel power generation in favor of fulfilling its needs through hydroelectric dam generation. The problem has been the very low water levels in the reservoirs have caused many of these generating facilities to go offline. As part of the solution, the state also has “green” energy plans to help fulfill the needs of the populous state. The natural gas generators coming online are meant as a stop-gap measure, according to the announcement.
In July, Governor Newsom issued a state of emergency over the power grid. He ordered solar, wind, and other non-carbon emitting power plants to be expedited. The Governor also temporarily removed air quality rules; this opened the door for increasing the amount of generation that relies on fossil fuels like natural gas.
According to an article originally published by Bloomberg, earlier in 2020, regulators in California were opposed to ordering utilities to add new gas-fired generation. The concern was environmental groups said it would run counter to the state’s decarbonization goals. Officials have been challenged to shore up power output ever since the 2020 blackouts.
Despite opposition from environmental groups, studies found that that the state may be short by as much as 3,500 megawatts during peak energy times for the rest of the year. While conservation measures would help, it was decided more production would be needed. The idea of the generators came from the CDWR and was backed by the California Energy Commission (CEC). The CEC approved the licenses last Tuesday for up to five plants.
The planned demise of reliable fossil fuels may take longer than planned in California and elsewhere. California has demonstrated this with its announcement last week. How possible it will be for other states and the nation to keep on proposed timelines remains to be seen. If California is a representative example, companies whose primary business is production or distribution of the more traditional carbon-emitting fuels may have more time to reinvent and shift some of their business lines to better match the plans, goals, and dictates of governments throughout the world.
Managing Editor, Channelchek
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