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'Renawable' energy production won't do much


If the author of "Community choice is the real deal" (Aug. 8) is truly concerned about the local economy, he might want to give some thought to the hundreds of millions (over 20 years) of lost local tax revenue; the loss of more than a billion dollars a year in indirect economic benefits; and the loss of way more than a thousand well-paying jobs that our community will suffer with the closure of Diablo Canyon Power Plant. As far as rebates, our unrestrained investment in wind and solar has blessed us with electrical utility rates that are among the highest in the country. And to beat all, I understand there was a California Public Utilities Commission meeting recently to consider—guess what—raising the utility rates.

Last year, renewables served 26 percent of the annual load, according to the California Independent System Operator. As of last June, renewables served 30 percent of the load so far this year, but that will decline toward the end of the year, so it is useless for anyone to claim that they paid extra to only have renewable power. Fortunately, right now Diablo Canyon provides another 6 or 7 percent of carbon-free power, but its days are numbered. In the letter, there was mention of a possible 250-megawatt-hour (MWh) increase of carbon-free energy. Diablo Canyon produces that much carbon-free energy in less than seven minutes.

Where does this Community choice money go? California renewables are approaching the limit of their efficient production. Every month of the year has a level of renewables overproduction, called curtailment, because the demand is not in place for it when it is produced. Right now, it is less than 3 percent of renewables production, but that figure is not only increasing, it is beginning to accelerate. Last year, some 460 MWh were curtailed. This year, by the end of June, almost 680 MWh were curtailed, and the year was only half over. Next year, the annual rate of curtailment will be measured in terawatt-hours.

What this means is that increased deployment of wind and solar resources will become more and more inefficient because only a part of the increased capacity will contribute to increased renewable production and the rest will contribute to curtailment. At some point, it will become a matter of throwing good money after bad—a lesson the Germans have yet to learn. So the answer is: Most of the community choice money in the future will be going nowhere except into the pockets of renewable special interests.

Mark Henry

San Luis Obispo

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