California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state had to “sober up” about the fact that renewable energy sources had failed to provide enough power for the state at peak demand, and needed “backup” and “insurance” from other sources.
Newsom addressed journalists and the public in the midst of ongoing electricity blackouts that began on Friday, as hundreds of thousands of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers in northern and central California lost power.
There is currently high demand for electricity across the state, as the entire West Coast has been hit by a heat wave and record-breaking temperatures.
One reason the state lacked power, officials admitted, was its over-reliance on “renewables” — i.e. wind and solar power.
There was not enough wind to keep turbines going, Newsom said, and cloud cover and nightfall restricted solar power.
“While we’ve had some peak gust winds,” he explained, “wind gust events across the state have been relatively mild.”
That was good for fighting fires, he said, but bad for the “renewable portfolio” in the state’s energy infrastructure. In addition, high demand for electricity in the evening hours, coupled with less input from solar plants, created strain.
On Friday, Newsom said, the state had fallen about 1,000 megawatts short; on Saturday, it fell 450 megawatts short. Sunday saw only “modest or minor” interruptions. But on Monday, he said, the state would be 4,400 megawatts short of “where we believe we need to be.”
“This next few days, we are anticipating being challenged,” Newsom said, as the heat wave was predicted to last through Wednesday.
“We failed to predict and plan these shortages,” Newsom admitted boldly, “and that’s simply unacceptable.” He said he took responsibility for the crisis, and for addressing it immediately, so that “we never come back into this position again.”
Newsom said the state would try to address shortfalls through conservation, and through procuring new sources of energy.
Though the state would continue its “transition” to 100% renewable energy, Newsom said, “we cannot sacrifice reliability as we move forward in this transition.”
He promised “forecasting that is more sober” regarding solar energy, and a stronger focus on energy storage.
California’s shift toward “green” energy has led the way for Democrats nationwide, who hope to impose even more ambitious targets for renewable energy nationwide.