In a game of energy chicken between conventional power sources and climate-friendly alternatives, California regulators have again blinked and sided with reliability over Sacramento’s ambitious initiatives.
Driving the news: The California Energy Commission voted to extend the life of three gas power plants along the state’s southern coast through 2026, rather than shutting them down by the end of this year.
- The plants in question are Ormond Beach Generating Station, AES Alamitos, and AES Huntington Beach, which will continue to operate during emergencies.
- The decision was made to ensure the state’s ability to generate enough electricity during extreme weather events and avoid blackouts when demand surges, particularly during heatwaves.
- The original shutdown deadline for the three plants was set for 2020 due to state regulations aimed at power plants that use ocean water to cool their equipment.
What they’re saying: Commissioner Patricia Monahan acknowledged frustration from green activists, but noted that the Golden State can’t afford devastating blackouts.
- “We need to move faster in incorporating renewable energy. We need to move faster at incorporating battery storage… but we are not there yet.” Monahan said.
The other side: Environmentalists expressed concerns about the health impacts associated with pollution from gas plants and urged a transition to more renewable energy sources.
- The state’s plan to keep the plants open still requires final approval from the State Water Resources Control Board, which may vote on the issue the following week.
- Activists raised concerns that the plants’ lives may be extended beyond 2026, highlighting the need for a strategy to phase out their operations effectively.