California has the capability to produce 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources. The state has a goal to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030. Even though California is projected to reach its target, possibly sooner than expected, the state continues to approve the construction of new power plants. These power plants are creating an excess of energy, which leaves residents paying higher electricity bills than anywhere else in the nation.
Since 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission have approved all but one fossil-fuel project. Just in the last three years the CPUC and California Energy Commission has approved the building of three plants. These plants cost millions and are unnecessary. The argument is that fossil-fuels provide reliable energy that renewable resources cannot deliver.
At a time when the fossil-fuel industry should be close to extinct, the CPUC continues to permit plants to spring up and produce a glut of energy. This allows the fossil-fuel industry to flourish, at the expense of ratepayers and the environment. Bill Powers, an energy consultant pointed out, “The customers cover every cost of the projects, so the developers are basically bulletproof — there’s no risk.” Californian’s can expect to pay for the consequences through their energy bills for decades to come.
California’s battle against fossil-fuel companies and excess energy has received very little coverage. The Los Angeles Times has been the only major media outlet to highlight the issue. In early 2017, they published an article called, “Californians are Paying Billions for Power They Don’t Need” by Ivan Penn and Ryan Menezes. They wrote about the excess amount of energy that is being created by these plants and how Californians are the one paying out of pocket for it. The Los Angeles Times also mentions the expansion of the fossil-fuel industry despite it becoming obsolete. They attribute this to regulators wanting a “cushion” of excess energy to account for any black outs that may occur however, they beat around the bush when it comes to placing the blame on the CPUC and the California Energy Commission. They briefly mention the CPUC and how they tend to allow fossil-fuel plants to expand. They end on a lighter note discussing a rare victory against the CPUC when the courts of appealed, which stopped a project because there was no evidence showing the plant was needed.
Source: Alastair Bland, “The Dinosaur That Won’t Die,” East Bay Express, March 21, 2018, https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/the-dinosaur-that-wouldnt-die/Content?oid=14356680.
Student Researcher: L. Joseph Smith (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)