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California renewables' fuel poverty

Paul Taylor

All "green renewable" energy mandates implemented in pursuit of "social justice" or progressive carbon controls cost more -- from grid to gas tank. Early adopters of renewable mandates (notably Australia and the E.U. during the lingering global economic downturn) are today dealing with "fuel poverty." Fuel poverty occurs when fuel and electric power shortages from renewable energy mandates systemically inflate common household expenses. Common households are forced to choose between paying the grocery bill or paying the electric bill.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) oversees the state’s electric power plants, transmission grid and system planning. The ISO recently raised the specter of fuel poverty due to the state-mandated renewable energy grid’s failure to meet rising electric power demands during non-peak demand months. The challenge to meet non-peak electricity demands has been created by the state’s 33 to 51 percent mandate for green renewable power by 2020. These non-peak power shortfalls are already occurring, but will get worse by 2015.

Green renewable energies include wind, solar, biofuel, biogas and small-scale hydroelectric power sources. In the mandated California state energy system that would be half supplied by green renewables, predicted non-peak power deficits would occur year round. It would no longer be just peak hot months of the summer or unusual winter cold snaps of power blackouts or rolling brownouts.

The problem is that many conventional electric power plants can’t be easily turned on or off to accommodate renewables’ deficits. Necessary increases in solar power use substantially raises their costs to consumers. Moreover, newer natural gas-fired power plants must cover their fixed construction, operation and financing costs. So the household cost per-megawatt-hour of electricity can escalate prohibitively. The ISO says this would result in green renewable power displacing the availability of needed flexible power sources. (, Oct. 7, 2013)

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