Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
California Regulators Back Away From Shutdown of 3 Gas Power Plants Set to Close This Year
By admin
Published 10 months ago on
August 11, 2023

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

SACRAMENTO — Temperatures in many California cities are cooling down this week, but a debate is simmering on how to generate enough electricity to power the state through extreme weather events while transitioning away from a reliance on fossil fuels.

The California Energy Commission voted Wednesday to extend the life of three gas power plants along the state’s southern coast through 2026, postponing a shutoff deadline previously set for the end of this year. The vote would keep the decades-old facilities — Ormond Beach Generating Station, AES Alamitos and AES Huntington Beach — open so they can run during emergencies.

The state is at a greater risk of blackouts during major events when many Californians simultaneously crank up their air conditioning, such as a blistering heat wave.

“We need to move faster in incorporating renewable energy. We need to move faster at incorporating battery storage. We need to build out chargers faster,” commissioner Patricia Monahan said. “We’re working with all the energy institutions to do that, but we are not there yet.”

The plan, put together by the state’s Department of Water Resources, still needs final approval from the State Water Resources Control Board, which may vote on the issue next week. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation last year creating an energy reserve the state could use as a last resort if there is likely to be an energy shortage. The law allowed the Department of Water Resources to fund or secure power sources in those instances.

The commission acknowledged it was a difficult decision. Environmentalists say the state needs to transition to more short- and long-term solutions that will help it move away from fossil fuels and to rely more on renewable energy sources like solar and wind. They’re also concerned about the health impacts associated with pollution from gas plants.

Few people spoke in support of keeping the plants open during about three hours of public comment.

Neither GenOn, the company running the Ormond Beach plant, nor AES, which runs the Alamitos and Huntington Beach plants, responded to email requests for comment on the vote.

At Wednesday’s meeting, activists said residents cannot be sure the state will not decide to again extend the life of these plants in another three years. Siva Gunda, the commission’s vice-chair, said the state should better prepare a strategy for ending operations of the plants by 2026.

Originally Scheduled for 2020 Shutdown

The three plants were originally set to shut down in 2020 under state regulations aimed at power plants that suck up ocean water to cool down their equipment. Many similar power plants have already shut down to comply with those rules.

The Ormond Beach plant is located in a largely Latino, low-income part of Oxnard, a city about 54 miles west of Los Angeles, next to agricultural fields that border homes. Oxnard residents who testified at the meeting said they are concerned about respiratory illnesses associated with pollution from gas facilities, as well as odors and noises coming from the plant.

“We are tired of fighting for our human right to breathe clean air,” said Oxnard resident and activist Sofi Magallon.

Newsom said earlier this year that the state would have enough water in its reservoirs from intense periods of snow and rain this past winter to revive hydroelectric plants, which reduces the chances of electricity outages during heat waves.

Emissions from the three plants dramatically increased during a record-breaking September heat wave, according to a report released by Regenerate California, a coalition of environmental groups. That included pollution from carbon and smog-forming nitrogen oxides. The report also cites data from the state showing that several gas plants didn’t generate as much electricity as expected during the heat wave.

“They’re not providing the energy that we’re relying on them for. They’re overpromising and underdelivering,” said Ari Eisenstadt, an energy equity manager with the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “That makes them a pretty bad investment.”

California has made strides in recent years to move toward renewables. In 2021, more than 37% of the state’s electricity came from renewable sources, up nearly 3% from the previous year, according to the Energy Commission. The state has set out to remove as many carbon emissions from the atmosphere as it emits by 2045.

But environmentalists still want California to speed up its transition toward renewables like solar and wind. In the meantime, the state should spend “much more ambitiously” to fund programs incentivizing people to reduce their energy use, so resources are not strained during extreme heat, said Teresa Cheng, a campaigner with Sierra Club.

That includes a statewide program to pay people to conserve energy during peak electricity times.

During last September’s heat wave, the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s electrical grid, issued something called a Flex Alert. The alert asked Californians to use less energy during the evenings in part by setting their thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The result was a dramatic reduction in reliance on the grid, Cheng said.

Cheng said the state keeps depending on being able to use gas plants as a crutch.

“As long as we have these gas plants online, we never really have to invest in clean energy solutions,” Cheng said.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Willie Mays, Giants’ Legendary ‘Say Hey Kid,’ Dies at 93

DON'T MISS

Balderrama Applies for Texas Police Chief Job

DON'T MISS

California Fines Amazon Nearly $6M, Alleging Illegal Work Quotas at 2 Warehouses

DON'T MISS

Nvidia’s Stock Market Value Topped $3.3 Trillion. How It Became No. 1 in the S&P 500, by the Numbers

DON'T MISS

Two Fresnans Defrauded a Mentally Ill Man out of Millions. First Sentencing Comes Down.

DON'T MISS

California Governor Wants to Restrict Smartphone Usage in Schools

DON'T MISS

Fresno Trustees Prepare for Votes on $2.1 Billion Budget, $500M Bond Measure

DON'T MISS

Fresno Garbage Rate Hike Vote on Thursday. Where Does Council Stand?

DON'T MISS

Palestinian Supporters Hang ‘Stop the Genocide’ Banner on El Capitan in Yosemite Protest

DON'T MISS

California Business & Labor Hammer Out a Deal on Workplace Violation Lawsuits

UP NEXT

Nvidia’s Stock Market Value Topped $3.3 Trillion. How It Became No. 1 in the S&P 500, by the Numbers

UP NEXT

Fresno Garbage Rate Hike Vote on Thursday. Where Does Council Stand?

UP NEXT

Palestinian Supporters Hang ‘Stop the Genocide’ Banner on El Capitan in Yosemite Protest

UP NEXT

California Business & Labor Hammer Out a Deal on Workplace Violation Lawsuits

UP NEXT

How the Teamsters and a Homegrown Union Plan to Take On Amazon

UP NEXT

Amazon Labor Union Workers Vote Overwhelmingly in Favor of an Affiliation with the Teamsters

UP NEXT

Retail Sales Rise a Meager 0.1% in May from April as Still High Inflation Curbs Spending

UP NEXT

Fisker Files for Bankruptcy Protection, the Second Electric Vehicle Maker to Do So in the Past Year

UP NEXT

Apple Kills Off Its Buy Now, Pay Later Service Barely a Year After Launch

UP NEXT

After Delay, Top Democrats in Congress Sign Off on Sale of F-15 Jets to Israel

Nvidia’s Stock Market Value Topped $3.3 Trillion. How It Became No. 1 in the S&P 500, by the Numbers

12 hours ago

Two Fresnans Defrauded a Mentally Ill Man out of Millions. First Sentencing Comes Down.

12 hours ago

California Governor Wants to Restrict Smartphone Usage in Schools

12 hours ago

Fresno Trustees Prepare for Votes on $2.1 Billion Budget, $500M Bond Measure

12 hours ago

Fresno Garbage Rate Hike Vote on Thursday. Where Does Council Stand?

13 hours ago

Palestinian Supporters Hang ‘Stop the Genocide’ Banner on El Capitan in Yosemite Protest

13 hours ago

California Business & Labor Hammer Out a Deal on Workplace Violation Lawsuits

15 hours ago

How the Teamsters and a Homegrown Union Plan to Take On Amazon

15 hours ago

Colorado LGBTQ+ Club Shooter Pleads Guilty to 50 Federal Hate Crimes

16 hours ago

Boeing CEO Apologizes to 737 Max Crash Victims’ Families in Senate Hearing

16 hours ago

Willie Mays, Giants’ Legendary ‘Say Hey Kid,’ Dies at 93

Willie Mays, the electrifying “Say Hey Kid” whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest a...

9 hours ago

9 hours ago

Willie Mays, Giants’ Legendary ‘Say Hey Kid,’ Dies at 93

11 hours ago

Balderrama Applies for Texas Police Chief Job

12 hours ago

California Fines Amazon Nearly $6M, Alleging Illegal Work Quotas at 2 Warehouses

12 hours ago

Nvidia’s Stock Market Value Topped $3.3 Trillion. How It Became No. 1 in the S&P 500, by the Numbers

12 hours ago

Two Fresnans Defrauded a Mentally Ill Man out of Millions. First Sentencing Comes Down.

12 hours ago

California Governor Wants to Restrict Smartphone Usage in Schools

12 hours ago

Fresno Trustees Prepare for Votes on $2.1 Billion Budget, $500M Bond Measure

13 hours ago

Fresno Garbage Rate Hike Vote on Thursday. Where Does Council Stand?

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend