This is a topic I already talked about here, in my classes and with many NRGwise customers: California has a major problem in hands with its electricity generation systems (see here). CA used to rely on 3 major nuclear power plants: 2 are now definitively down (and their zero emissions 2+ MW generation capacity). CA used to rely on hydro-electricity for summer peak use. Well, with no water in the reservoirs, this option is gone too, at least for now. So, how CA is generating its electricity? relying on old fashion fossil fuel power plants. The 2012 numbers are out: while nation wide the switch from coal to natural gas shows great results (see my previous posts), the switch from renewables (yes, nuclear was considered by some as renewable…) to natural gas in CA already shows a step back in fighting climate change.
What are the expected consequences for us, CA electricity consumers?
Electricity in CA is a commodity priced 10 to 40% up to other states in the US – Expect its price to go up in the next few years. CA will import it from neighborhood states, while ramp-up massive renewable electricity generation project like solar power plants. Expect the state agencies, PG&E and large cities/counties governments, to push the larger electricity users (hotels, industrial use, campuses, server farm…) to invest in on-site electricity generation systems. And finally, expect the new heavy industrial projects build outside California, where water, electricity and land is cheaper. Elon Musk has already stated it: the Gigafactory (the world largest battery factory) will NOT be located in California.
Conclusion, CA has little choice but ramp-up major energy projects including: new renewable large power plants, fast track to residential/commercial solar roof tops, ambitious electricity conservation plans and policies, and build a really smart grid to distribute and manage this. The future of energy is here.