Reality Bites: California Moves Back Toward Gas and Nuke Energy To Keep Lights On

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

In late April 2022, Southern California was cool. I don’t mean the Steve McQueen sort of cool. I mean that the high temperature in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 30th, 2022 was 69 degrees


It was a lovely weekend day. Not too cold, not too hot. SoCal was in a Goldilocks temperature zone of comfortability. Since homes weren’t running air conditioning, electrical use was way down. There wasn’t a massive drain on the electrical grid. There was hardly any drain at all. In fact, April 30, 2022, was something of a unicorn day for California weather and megawatt use. At one point during the day at about 5 p.m., California was using 18,600 megawatts - far less than a usual spring weekday. The wind was blowing, the sun was glaring.  “Green energy” approached 100% of the draw.

Green energy geeks acted like California hit the lottery.

And then, it was gone. Poof. The sun went down. Night came, the solar panels went to sleep and the perfect conditions were no more. Then, as sure as the sun would rise, clouds would cover that big angry ball in the sky and the wind would stop blowing, Summer came to California. By September 2022, Gavin Newsom was back from vacation begging Californians to stop using power. Goldilocks was, officially dead. Brownouts were in the offing, warned Newsom. Charge your EV now, and don't run your AC. 

In September 2022, RedState’s Bob Hoge wrote

Dire “flex alert” text messages were sent out en masse by grid operators Tuesday afternoon, calling on the populace to set their ACs no lower than 78 degrees and forgo the use of appliances like washing machines. Yes, this is 21st-century life in a First World country.

Blackouts were largely avoided Tuesday as utilities were just able to keep up with the demand. We’ll see whether the same holds true in the next few days. (Although there weren’t widespread blackouts in the state, there were still a few in some communities which authorities blamed on “miscommunication.” That certainly doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.)


While Newson was begging Californians to turn off their lights, he was also begging green energy allies to unplug their EVs. Frequent brownouts and calls to not charge your EV becuase the state is out of power isn’t the best way to sell people on “we’re going 100% renewable!” 

Yeah, no you’re not. 

What’s California’s electrical pull on August 31, 2023? As of 7:32 p.m. Thursday night, the megawatt draw was 36,636. That’s almost exactly twice the Goldilocks day last April. What was the percentage of use of renewables? Zero. 

Three years ago, there were rolling blackouts in California. Although Californians have been moving out of California to avoid the increasing unaffordability, not enough energy users were moving out to stave off increases on the energy grid and increases on everyone's wallets. Now Newsom is greenlighting (pun intended) the use of the most reliable source of running turbines – that is natural gas.

Now, Newsom is “blessing” the continued use of natural gas and nuclear power that he campaigned on shutting down over time. Notwithstanding his posturing for cameras he’s dealing with the reality that, if he wants to keep the lights on and EVs charged, there is no other choice but to keep gas and nuclear power-generated plants operational. Politico breathlessly reported

The Newsom-appointed Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to approve the Aliso Canyon expansion, which would boost storage by two-thirds to nearly 69 billion cubic feet.

His administration also extended the life of three aging natural gas plants in Southern California last month and is helping keep Diablo Canyon, the state’s remaining nuclear plant, open despite his prior support as lieutenant governor for closing it.


Newsom Sugarplum Fairy's fantasy of a 100% renewable energy grid is slamming into a wall of reality. Newsom still wants to ban the sale of all gas-driven cars which would mean a bigger draw on an already overburdened electrical grid when a million more EVs are plugged in every night. 

Goldilocks was a fairy tale. So is Newsom's fantasy of 100% renewable energy. Even he knows it's pretend. 


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