California’s Blackouts Spell Trouble For Biden’s Clean Energy Overhaul

California’s Mandated Transition To Clean Energy Has Been Ongoing Longer Than The Entire Amount Of Time That Biden’s Plan Allots For Transitioning The Whole Nation To 100% Clean Energy

Biden’s clean energy plan calls for a carbon-free power sector by 2035, just 15 years from now.  “Move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. This will enable us to meet the existential threat of climate change while creating millions of jobs with a choice to join a union.” (“The Biden Plan To Build A Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure And An Equitable Clean Energy Future,” Joe Biden Campaign Website, Accessed 9/29/20)

California began its transition to clean power in 2002 – 18 years ago – with a Renewables Portfolio Standard mandating 20% renewable power by 2017. “California’s RPS program was established in 2002 by Senate Bill (SB) 1078 (Sher, 2002) with the initial requirement that 20% of electricity retail sales must be served by renewable resources by 2017.” (“Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program,” California Public Utilities Commission, Accessed 9/29/20)

In 2018, California set a goal of 100% carbon free power by 2045.“In 2018, SB 100 (de León, 2018) was signed into law, which again increases the RPS to 60% by 2030 and requires all the state’s electricity to come from carbon-free resources by 2045.” (“Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program,” California Public Utilities Commission, Accessed 9/29/20)

  • NOTE: Even though California already had a Renewables Portfolio Standard in place for 16 years by 2018, their statewide 100% clean energy goal is still 10 years later than Biden’s 2035 goal.

To give a sense of how quick Biden’s 15 year timeline is:

  • It took the Department of Defense 17 years to develop and test just one jetfighter program – the F-35. “The F-35 Joint Program Office declared the 17-year System Development and Demonstration (SDD) effort complete on April 11, 2018.” (“F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program,” Congressional Research Service, 5/27/20)
  • Boston’s ‘Big Dig’ took 16 years, one year longer than Biden’s plan allots to overhaul the nation’s power supply. “When the clock runs out on 2007, Boston will quietly mark the end of one of the most tumultuous eras in the city’s history: The Big Dig, the nation’s most complex and costliest highway project, will officially come to an end….Construction started in 1991.” (“On Dec. 31, It’s Official: Boston’s Big Dig Will Be Done,” Washington Post, 12/26/07)
  • It took the Obama/Biden administration seven years to decide whether or not to approve a permit on just one energy infrastructure project – the Keystone pipeline. “The Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline Friday ends a seven-year saga.” (“Obama Administration Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline, Citing Climate Concerns,” Wall Street Journal, 11/6/15)

Biden’s Rapid Timeline Is Especially Alarming As California’s Recent Blackouts Shows That, Even With The Greater Amount Of Time They’ve Had, The State Is Still Struggling To Achieve Their Goals While Maintaining Grid Reliability

WATCH: Following the recent blackouts in California, Gov. Newsom admitted the transition away from fossil fuels has left California with a gap in the reliability of its energy system, and said the state must examine its reliance on solar power and how that fits into its broader energy portfolio. (Gov. Newsom, Press Conference, 8/17/20) TIMESTAMP: 17:45 – 20:00

Top officials at California’s power grid operator warned last year that electricity shortages were likely in 2020 because of the state’s shift away from fossil fuels and towards intermittent power sources like solar and wind.  “But last fall, top officials at California’s power grid operator ominously warned that electricity shortages were likely as soon as 2020 during a big Western heat wave. The reason: The state’s historic shift away from fossil fuels such as natural gas, which provide consistent power, toward cleaner sources such as solar and wind energy, which rise and fall with the weather and the sun. With less reliable energy supplies, they say the power grid has become more difficult to operate and more at risk of blackouts, calling it a ‘most urgent issue’ that ‘really needs timely attention.’” (“California grid operator warned of power shortages as state transitioned to clean energy,” The Mercury News, 8/17/20)

WATCH: Obama’s former Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, said in 2019 that natural gas “is the only reason California has survived” the times when renewable energy failed to reliably generate power. (Ernest Moniz, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “EnergyInnovates” Summit, 7/31/19)