December 16, 2020


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Much of what Senator Becker is proposing is renewable energy on an accelerated schedule, coupled with storage. As we get to a higher percentage of renewable energy to generate electricity, we must have sufficient storage to cover for those times when there's not enough generation. What happens at night or when the wind is light? Or during the peak of energy use from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.? Energy storage from the peak time of solar generation is starting to displace "peaker" natural gas plants that were the answer in years past. Rate-based incentives to use less energy during the peaks of consumption and distributed energy must play a role, too.

In California, there are very few commercially viable wind energy sites left. Repowering of existing sites occurs when it is economical. The rest of the country has plenty of high-quality wind energy sites, especially in the Plains states from Texas to Iowa, but the high cost and losses incurred during long-distance transmission mean that it is a marginal solution for California.

Rooftop solar must continue to increase, both on homes and businesses. Picture parking lots covered with solar collectors. These have the advantage of being close to where the electricity will be consumed. Large solar arrays will have to continue to be built, mostly on marginal agricultural land.

There will be no more large hydropower installations, and hopefully (in my opinion) none of the "new" smaller nuclear plants that are now being proposed in some circles. California's one nuke plant at Diablo Canyon is scheduled to close in 2025, although we will all pay for its decommissioning for years after.

I agree that control of the human population increase would be really nice for the long-term solution to the climate crisis, but I don't see that happening yet.

The devil can be in the details, but hopefully not. Such bills are sometimes used to justify more nuclear power plants and more river-wrecking hydropower. Another big problem can be landscape-smothering, commercial-scale solar installations and ridge-wrecking wind turbines. In addition, most new large-scale "alternative energy" installations require miles of new roads and power lines, causing massive destruction and ecosystem disruption in the landscape. All new so-called "clean" energy development should be within the current developed footprint and served by the current grid pattern, among the best answers being distributed solar energy (could provide up to 40 percent of current energy needs) and hugely more efficient energy use. And, of course, no long-term sustainable solution will be possible without human population stabilization and then reduction.

Bravo, Senator Josh Becker!

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