California’s Cautionary Clean Energy, by Rea S. Hederman, Jr. and Will Swaim

Speaking of failed stand-mandated science experiments. From Rea S. Hederman and Will Swain at

California’s headlong rush to replace its electricity grid with renewable energy has given the rest of the country a preview of the decarbonized future that President Biden and his revived Clean Power Plan envision for America. It isn’t pretty.

Before supply-chain woes and federal stimulus goosed inflation, California’s cost of living already ranked second highest in the nation. Enthusiastic efforts to rely more heavily on wind and solar power—touted as “cheap” sources of clean energy—have only made the state more expensive.

In 2015, President Obama imposed his Clean Power Plan to replace all coal-fired power plants with natural gas-fired plants and renewable energy. California said, “hold my beer” and passed its own Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act with even more ambitious decarbonization targets. To meet those targets, the state issued overzealous, poorly planned regulations that increased in-state electricity generation from wind and solar farms by over twenty thousand gigawatt hours per year. Wind and solar power now account for a quarter of California’s energy supply.

California and clean energy seem like a natural fit. The state’s sunny coastlines, bright deserts, windy mountain passes, and deep river valleys should offer bountiful sources of cheap, all-natural solar, wind, and hydropower. Unfortunately, they don’t. Nightfall, droughts, and windless days take these renewable power sources offline. And when intermittent clean energy sources cannot keep up with demand, California power providers turn to natural gas and electricity imports that backstop the state’s grid, but which are now more expensive due to the insufficient storage and pipeline capacity created by the idealized rush to “cheap” clean energy.

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