What to do when the sun don’t shine?

NV Energy is urging its customers across the state today to conserve energy between the hours of 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. due to the heat wave.

Similar pleas are being made in neighboring California, but according to a Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this week the blame lies not just with the heat but with the choices the state has made in how it generates its electricity. As of 2018 California was generating more than 32 percent of its electricity with renewable sources — 21 percent from just solar and wind.

The trouble with those is that they generate when the sun shines and the wind blows, which may not be when customers are still using loads of electricity. In fact, power use continues apace after the sun sets and people settle in for an evening in front of the A/C and power up their entertainment units, computers, stoves, lighting, etc.

A WSJ news story notes that California’s grid operator called twice for emergency outages over the past weekend due to inadequate power supplies, in part because demand peaked as solar production began its evening decline.”California has been relying far more heavily on natural-gas-fired power plants, which, unlike wind and solar farms, aren’t dependent on the weather to produce energy,” story notes.

Democrats in California have called by generating 60 percent of the state’s power with renewables by 2030.

Nevada currently generates 22 percent of its electricity via renewables. Could that be a contributing factor to the conservation warning?

Nevada Democrats, too, have ordered that 60 percent of power in the state come from renewables by 2030. In November 2018, Nevada voters approved by nearly 60 percent a constitutional amendment that would require 50 percent of the electricity consumed in the state to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

In the 2019 legislative session lawmakers passed a law requiring the same thing and Gov. Steve Sisolak promptly signed it.

The constitutional amendment is back on the ballot in November. If passed it would take two votes of the people two years apart to change it. At least the law could be changed if electricity users begin to tire of rolling blackout caused but a lack of power when it is really needed. The voters might also wise up to the fact that renewables, once all the subsidies are included, actually cost four times as much as natural gas-generated power.

Let’s hope the cooler temperatures in November don’t cause voters to forget the threat that came in sultry August.

Solar panels in Nevada


6 comments on “What to do when the sun don’t shine?

  1. Rincon says:

    You’re certainly correct about solar and wind power not being dependable enough at this time, so I have to agree that it would be foolish for these states to require even more of the same. That being said, China has already found and installed the answer: Ultra high efficiency DC power transmission. This allows power to be routed thousands of miles as needed with little loss. China uses it mostly to transport power from the coal fired power plants in the sparsely populated northwest in order to minimize the air pollution problem in the east, but they also use it to balance their grid.

    Unfortunately. this country is less technologically advanced than China in a few areas such as this one. Once we bring our grid up to 21st century standards, shifting renewable power around will likely become more feasible. Figure that will happen around 2095 or so. Until then, our use of renewables will have some serious limitations.

  2. Athos says:

    We do need to upgrade our energy infrastructure. Of course, we’ve known this for well over a decade. It’s a shame that crooks in high places have us playing this “save the planet” game with our A/C. California politicians should be held accountable for gross criminal malfeasance.

    It’s a shame, really. California was beautiful.

  3. Rincon says:

    Thanks for an interesting article, Thomas. So often, things are more complicated than they appear at first.

  4. Athos says:

    What was Trump’s line the other night?

    “How can Joe Biden claim to be an ‘ally of the light’ when his own party can’t even keep the lights on?”

    Rebuts Sleepy Joe AND slams California’s green energy program.

    On a serious note, back in the 70s I lived in the LA/Orange county area and it was beautiful. Only democrats could screw up such a beautiful state as California. How DO they keep getting elected? Even in Orange county?

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