By Tim Hunt
Gov. Newsom tries to split the baby on nukes and electrical powerUploaded: Aug 16, 2022
It’s been interesting to watch His Highness Gov. Gavin Newsom try to dance on the head of a pin as he embraces and pushes full green policies while simultaneously trying to avoid another summer of brownouts because the state cannot produce enough reliable green power.
The state grid operator urged operators to do no maintenance this week so maximum capacity was available as temperatures soar this week after an unusually cool summer, particularly here in the Bay Area.
Newsom proposed to the Legislature loaning Pacific Gas and Electric Co. $1.4 billion to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant running for up to 10 more years. It had been scheduled to shutdown in 2025. The loan can be forgiven. The proposal is one of several climate-related measures that Newsom hopes to jam through the Legislature before the session wraps up for the year in three weeks. Diablo Canyon produces about 8% of the state’s electricity and 15% of its “clean energy.”
People without an irrational fear of nuclear power have recognized for years that it would be the foundation of a green power system. It’s 24-7 unlike solar and wind. The state’s headlong rush into green power already has required the government to extend the lives of four natural gas power plants design to provide power at peak times and when green energy is insufficient. It also, conveniently, has allowed the continued operation of plants burning wood chips because the dead trees in the Sierra Nevada must be disposed of and this was a win-win approach.
Newsom seems to be taking a lesson from the German policies of former Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel declared that Germany would shut down its nuclear plants, a step neighboring France didn’t even consider. During that shutdown, power demand was exceeding capacity so plants were burning wood chips—yes wood chips.
This was while she was tying her company’s energy future to the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. When the Germans reacted to the Ukraine invasion by stopping the pipeline construction, it tightened an energy noose around its neck. Merkel has retired and it’s up to her successor to deal with her horrible decisions. Germany has retired three of its six nuclear plants and now is planning to continue operating the remaining plants given the Russian situation.
Newsom’s list for the Legislature this month also includes accelerated greenhouse gas cuts, new interim targets for reaching 100% clean energy and safety zones around new oil and gas wells. He’s also proposing exempting the Diablo Canyon’s continued operation from any environmental review, an idea that was panned by some leading environmental groups.
Stay tuned to see how much political capital the governor who wants to be president will expend this month.