July 9, 2018

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Saturday morning 34,500 residents in Los Angeles lost their electric power, in the midst of a dangerous heat wave. The cause? Not enough electricity to power all those air conditioners. Last winter Massachusetts and New England came razor close to losing electric power for millions of residents during an extended cold snap that went on for weeks. The only thing that saved their bacon was firing up a bunch of 1960s oil burning power plants. And the very town where MDN editor Jim Willis lives (Windsor) in Upstate New York is about to embark on a project to stick 33 wind mills across thousands of acres–wind mills that are 60 stories high and will kill bald eagles living in the area. 

These three seemingly separate stories have one thing in common–each state is anti-fossil fuel. They all desperately need more electricity. And each state is heading for (or already in) brownouts and blackouts–because of its stubborn, obtuse, anti-fossil fuel political leaders who insist “renewables” will ride in to save the day. Each state is now going to reap what it has sown, and we will be there every step of the way to remind you that we’ve predicted it, for years…

California is in the process of stopping new fossil fuel extraction, and blocking new pipelines and gas-fired electric plants. They prefer to be “green” and install solar panels and windmills. This is what it gets you:

Thousands of Los Angeles residents were left without power Saturday morning after a heat wave prompted high electricity demand throughout the city.

“Friday’s record-setting heat led to unprecedented peak electricity demand,” according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). High demand caused power outages throughout city and left 34,500 customers in the dark — without fans or air conditioning.

The department said that figure accounts for about 2.5% of their 1.5 million customers.

Scorching heat has descended upon California and parts of the southwest after a heat wave swept across Canada earlier in the week, killing dozens in the province of Quebec, according to Canadian health officials.

Many areas in California on Friday broke their daily high temperature records, according to CNN meteorologists. Downtown Los Angeles reached a high of 108 degrees, breaking its previous daily record of 94 degrees, which was set in 1992.

UCLA also broke its previous daily temperature record, where thermometers read 111 degrees.

Since the start of the heat wave on Friday, LADWP has restored power to 14,500 customers, it said in a statement. But LADWP warned customers they should prepare to be without power for 12 to 24 hours, “and possibly even longer due to the high number of small localized outages.”

The peak energy demand level on Friday was 6,256 megawatts, LADWP said, a new record for a day in July, beating out the previous record of 6,165 megawatts, set on July 24, 2006.

LADWP also asked customers to reduce their electricity use throughout Saturday afternoon and into the evening.

“LADWP crews worked throughout the night to restore power and will work around the clock until every affected customer has service restored,” it added.

But according to CNN meteorologists, more daily high temperature records were expected to either be tied or broken on Saturday. Temperatures along the coast could reach up to 100 degrees, while those farther inland could see highs of up to 120 degrees.

More than 15 million people were under excessive heat warnings on Saturday throughout Southern California and Nevada. (1)

The following story (from May), which we previously highlighted, chronicles the scary situation in New England just a few short months ago:

As Maine and New England shivered through last winter’s historic cold spell, the region’s electric system faced an unprecedented prospect: rolling blackouts.

Several troubling circumstances were converging. Natural gas was scarce and pricey. A power line failure sidelined one of New England’s largest power plants. Solar panels were covered with snow and wind turbines were buffeted by storms.

The combination forced grid operators to ramp up 1960s-era technology to keep the lights on. For the first time, they strategically juggled the generating periods of aging oil-fired plants, which burned 2 million barrels of oil in the two weeks between Dec. 26 and Jan. 9. With sea ice and storms delaying deliveries, these plants only had 19 percent of their average inventories left when the weather finally eased. (2)

Next time, New England may not be so lucky. At some point, they will experience blackouts. They need more natural gas, but their own politicians, along with NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, refuse to allow pipelines from the PA Marcellus just a few hundred miles away (see When Neighbors Go Bad: NY Forcing New England into Blackouts).

Massachusetts is one of the worst, with politicians adamantly opposed to pipelines that get buried in the ground and that no one ever sees. So what do Mass. politicians want instead? They want to hack apart 145 miles of wooded land located mostly in neighboring Maine, to install a new power line from Canada:

Massachusetts is again testing its northern neighbors’ willingness to help meet its growing need for electricity.

Central Maine Power Co. wants to build a $950 million, 145-mile transmission line deep in the Maine woods to import hydropower from Quebec. The project grabbed the spotlight earlier this year after a competing plan in New Hampshire ran into regulatory hurdles, and Massachusetts utilities looked east for another way to import Canadian power.

Now it is Maine’s turn to decide whether a slice of its forestland should be strung with wires to support another state’s energy supply. Thus far, the project is generating support in small towns eager for added tax revenue, but objections from some environmentalists and locals who question whether the impact is worthwhile.

“I don’t care who’s paying for it, you’re coming through our towns, you need to make sure we’re getting something from it,” said Tom Saviello, a Republican state senator in the region who is also a member of the board of selectman in a town the line would briefly cross.

The project, which Central Maine Power hopes to finish by the end of 2022, needs state-level approvals in Maine, clearance from the federal government and Massachusetts regulatory approval for a 20-year deal to buy power from Quebec. Some Maine towns claim they have some zoning authority over it as well, but either way, believe their input will prove valuable as regulators review the plan. (3)

Bloody bonkers! Hack up the woods for a power line instead of installing a pipeline in the ground where no one will see it.

Turning to New York, where fracking and new natgas pipelines are unofficially (but effectively) banned, we spotted the following story about a new wind mill farm going up not far from MDN HQ. We have nothing against our neighbors who want to cash in–but wind mills are UGLY. And LOUD. And they KILL BIRDS, including a growing local population of bald eagles. Instead of sticking 33, 60-story-tall windmills on 60 square miles (38,000 acres) that produces a tiny 124 megawatts of electricity, NY could build a single Marcellus-fired electric plant on 5 acres and produce 1,200 megawatts of electricity–for less cost. What a travesty.

Sponsors of a wind power project with 33 turbines proposed for eastern Broome County are now ready to proceed with the state’s lengthy regulatory review.

The 124-megawatt wind power generating facility — enough juice to supply an estimated 20,00 homes — would be erected on private land leased by Houston-based Calpine Corp. in the towns of Windsor and Sanford.

Bluestone Wind Energy, a unit of Calpine, submitted the first documents this week that will begin the state’s formal project review.

Although the general scope of the project was unveiled last year, Bluestone held off starting hearings before the state Public Service Commission while sponsors worked out lease arrangements with the landowners.

Turbines, some of which can reach nearly 600-feet in height from base to top tip of the blade, will be placed on hillsides spread across 38,000 acres — about 60 square miles — of rural parcels. Many of the turbines will be visible from Route 17.

In March, a Delaware Otsego Audubon Society survey indicated a large presence of bald and golden eagles throughout the project territory. The birds, they noted, could be affected by the project.

“The number of non-migrant eagles of both species was exceptionally high, considerably more than had been anticipated,” the group said in a report to the PSC.

Andy Mason of the regional Audubon Society, said his group is uncommitted on the project, awaiting the results of a similar survey conducted by sponsors.

“Seeing that many resident birds was a surprise to us,” Mason said.

In an ironic twist, some of the property owners in Windsor and Sanford gaining long-term leases from Bluestone were the same who won big money contracts for natural gas drilling in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale. Those now-expired natural gas leases lapsed when New York barred fracking four years ago.

New York is encouraging the development of renewable energy projects with incentives and tax credits under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to produce 50 percent of the state’s electric needs from sustainable sources by 2030.

A disclosure document indicates that land owners granting easements to access the towers or hosting the turbines will be paid between $2,500 and $30,000 annually by Calpine.

In terms of power generated, the planned wind farm will be among the larger projects in the state, although other projects for as much as 400 megawatts are also on the drawing board.

The closest existing wind farm is in Dutch Hill/Cohocton in Steuben County with 50 turbines, producing 125 megawatts of electricity. It came on line in 2008.

New York now has 17 commercial wind farms across upstate producing 1,739 megawatts of electricity — enough power to supply 285,000 homes — or about 4 percent of the state’s installed capacity, based on the most recent report from the New York Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s electric grid.

A second Calpine project — High Bridge Wind — is being proposed the Chenango County community of Guilford, where the company proposed a 100 megawatt wind farm employing 25 to 30 turbines. The company began initial outreach for that project last year, and started to execute leases early this year.

As a part of the Bluestone project, Calpine expects to build up to a four-mile electric transmission line to bring the wind-generated electricity into a 115-kilovolt line in Sanford to connect to the statewide grid.

Construction on the Windsor/Sanford project is scheduled to begin late 2019 or early 2020. (4)

The thing all three states–CA, MA and NY–have in common is this: They’re anti-fossil fuel. And now, they are (or soon will) experience blackouts because of their anti-fossil fuel folly.

(1) CNN (Jul 7, 2018) – Thousands without power in Los Angeles after high demand due to heat wave

(2) Portland (ME) Press Herald (May 20, 2018) – Cold snap tested reliability of region’s power grid and arguments against fossil fuels

(3) Wall Street Journal (Jul 6, 2018) – In Need of Electricity, Massachusetts Looks to the North—Again

(4) Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin (Jul 6, 2018) – Sponsors preparing formal proposal to state PSC for 33 wind turbines in Broome County

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