California’s power is expensive and polluting – but doesn’t have to be.
The state of California plans to replace Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) mostly with Wyoming coal-fired generation. The source of the replacement power will remain hidden until 2025, when Californians can’t stop the state.
As a nonprofit intervenor before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) since 2016, Californians for Green Nuclear Power (CGNP) has uncovered four obscure clues in CPUC filings that confirm the state’s plan. CGNP’s thousands of pages of filings provide the details.
The first clue is the engineering requirement that since Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is a reliable 24/7 generator, any incremental replacement generation must have similar reliability. Otherwise, rolling blackouts occur.
Engineers use the term “dispatchable” (under human control) to describe Diablo Canyon’s power. Dispatchable generators that supply power like Diablo Canyon are powered by natural gas or coal. The ongoing drought means building new dams is impractical. While Diablo Canyon is compact, it’s annual production is the equivalent of five Hoover Dams.
Californians demand that California’s coal plants be shut down and they object to new plants powered by natural gas.
Widely-promoted solar and wind aren’t dispatchable. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow with sufficient force. Natural gas fills in for solar and wind’s substantial intermittencies. Batteries are extremely expensive — and could optimally be reserved for vehicles to improve air quality, instead of displacing natural gas in power plants.