California‘s poor forest management and excessive reliance on green energy sources has left the state unprepared to handle fires sweeping across the state, leaving residents without electricity during apocalyptic darkness.
The California Independent System Operator reported last Thursday that the solar power generation in the state fell to about two-thirds of an average summer day because of the fires, E&E News reported.
This will compound the need for the state to enforce rolling blackouts, which leave residents without power, sometimes without warning.
Michael Bolen, project manager for solar generation at the Electric Power Research Institute, said the problem could continue even after the visible smog dissipates.
“All those ash [and] smoke particles have to settle somewhere,” he said. “If they land on the PV modules, then they could block light from entering the modules.”
President Donald Trump visited California on Monday to talk about the wildfires, and he blamed improper forest management rather than climate change at a press conference with Gov. Gavin Newsom, USA Today reported.
If forest management is the culprit, then the state could pull back from its green-energy regime and end rolling blackouts.
“When trees fall down after a short period of time, they become very dry—really like a matchstick … and they can explode,” Trump said.
Newsom agreed that forest management issues contribute to the wildfires, but he said the most important problem is climate change.
“Please respect, and I know you do, the difference of opinion out here as it relates to this fundamental issue … of climate change,” Newsom said.
He previously blamed climate change for the wildfires at the Democratic National Convention.
“If you are in denial about climate change, come to California,” Newsom said. “The hots are getting hotter. The dries are getting drier.”
Newsom will move forward with plans to turn the state into a green-energy utopia, with rolling blackouts and higher energy prices. California plans to eliminate carbon-based fuels by 2045.
Even President Barack Obama’s former energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, said California’s lawmakers and policymakers cannot realistically assert that solar power, combined with battery power storage, can sustain the state’s electricity grid over the next 10 years.
Moniz said energy technology has not yet reached the California’s solar-power dream into a reality. Solar and wind energy sources will need natural gas to supplement them for years to come.
“Right now there is a shortage of [generating] capacity,” Moniz said, in reference to the state’s “tremendous challenges” with solar and wing energy.
Solar and wind energy vary too much in their reliability, especially as energy demands change during the time of day and across seasons.
He said natural gas must be readily available until technologies develop to allow for sustainable battery storage, hydrogen-based energy, and tools to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“We need to do more in terms of looking at how the whole system fits together,” Moniz said.
Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who served under Moniz, disagreed with her one-time boss, arguing that climate change poses such an existential threat that natural gas cannot be tolerated.
“We think there are opportunities that abound to make this transition,” said McCarthy, who is now the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“It’s not only realistic, it’s imperative. We don’t have any choice,” she said.