California is building five new natural gas plants in a desperate ploy to avoid blackouts

California will build five new natural gas plants in a desperate attempt to avoid blackouts. The move to approve 150 megawatts (MW) of new natural gas capacity is more evidence that California’s rush to wind and solar power is having unintended, but entirely foreseeable, negative consequences.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Republican, didn’t pull punches on the cause of the blackouts, saying that California’s energy shortages were self-inflicted, and the result of poor public policy out of Sacramento. According to the Fresno Bee:

“California has been forced to [build the gas plants] because we now have growing demand on a grid that has flattening supplies and that has caused these Flex Alerts,” Patterson said. “Our grid is destabilized because of political decisions.”

From 2009 to 2019, there were two Flex Alerts per year, he said. So far this year alone, he said, the state has had about six Flex Alerts. With high temperatures this year, Californians have been urged to conserve electricity during certain hours.

“Now, as a result of the policies that are coming out of the state Capitol, we are increasingly seeing a grid that is close to being unbalanced,” he said.

Patterson is absolutely correct. Unfortunately, the new gas plants may not be enough to make up for the closure of nuclear and natural gas plants in California since 2013.

According to the California Public Utilities Commission, California faces potential energy shortfalls of up to 3,500 MW in the coming weeks, which is 23 times larger than the capacity of the new gas plants. Next summer, the capacity shortfall could be as much as 5,000 MW.

Minnesota politicians need to understand that California is an example of what not to do. Repeating California’s missteps and expecting different results is a recipe for rising prices and faltering reliability.