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

 

Newspaper column: States cry foul over California egg law

California law requires cage sizes for chickens, eve for imported eggs.

Californians want chickens to be able to stretch their wings, no matter how much it stretches the cost of eggs.

Back in 2008 those animal-loving folks to the west of Nevada approved a ballot initiative that required the size of cages for egg-laying hens in that state to be increased by about 75 percent by January 2015. Failure to comply with the law was punishable by a $1,000 fine and 180 days in the county lockup.

But as January 2015 approached, the egg farmers in California started to squawk, saying complying with the law would cause their eggs to cost at least 20 percent more to produce than eggs imported from other states, putting them at a competitive disadvantage.

So, California lawmakers passed a law saying that any eggs sold in that state had to comply with the state cage size requirements.

From January 2015 to January 2016 the price of eggs in the U.S. shot up more than 10 percent, according to the Consumer Price Index, though the prices have dropped since.

But now Nevada and a dozen other states are crying foul and asking the U.S. Supreme Court to wring the neck of the California egg law because it violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and a federal law requiring uniform standards for eggs sold in interstate commerce.

According to the 109-page lawsuit, the California regulations are costing egg consumers nationwide more than $350 million a year.

In announcing several weeks ago that Nevada was joining the legal challenge, Attorney General Adam Laxalt declared, “This is yet another example of California’s unreasonable and over burdensome regulations affecting everyday Nevadans. By forcing out-of-state egg producers to modify their production facilities to comply with one state’s eccentric preferences, California has inflated egg prices for every consumer in the nation, including in Nevada. We are asking the Supreme Court to limit California’s ability to set unreasonable and unique agricultural standards that affect other states like Nevada, while doing little to help further any tangible concerns in California.”

The other states involved are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. All have Republican attorneys general except Iowa.

According to the suit, California produces about 5 billion eggs a year and imports another 4 billion from other states, greatly affecting the interstate egg market.

The lawsuit quotes a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court case on the significance of the Commerce Clause to the nation’s founders. That opinion stated: “The few simple words of the Commerce Clause — ‘The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce … among the several States …’ — reflected a central concern of the Framers that was an immediate reason for calling the Constitutional Convention: the conviction that in order to succeed, the new Union would have to avoid the tendencies toward economic Balkanization that had plagued relations among the Colonies and later among the States under the Articles of Confederation. … The Commerce Clause has accordingly been interpreted by this Court not only as an authorization for congressional action, but also, even in the absence of a conflicting federal statute, as a restriction on permissible state regulation.”

The suit further quotes the federal law that states for “eggs which have moved or are moving in interstate or foreign commerce, no State or local jurisdiction may require the use of standards of quality, condition, weight, quantity, or grade which are in addition to or different from the official Federal standards …”

As the suit clearly argues, that law “preempts any contrary state or local laws under the Supremacy Clause, both expressly and impliedly.”

The California law is blatantly protectionist in its design. In urging the governor to sign the law the California Department of Food and Agriculture stated: “This will ensure a level playing field for California’s shell egg producers by requiring out of state producers to comply with the state’s animal care standards … Without a level playing field with out-of-state producers, companies in California will no longer be able to operate in this state and will either go out of business or be forced to relocate to another state.”

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in California’s favor, so it is up to the Supreme Court to unscramble this mess.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.