California leads the nation in renewable energy – however the justification behind Senate Bill 100 (SB 100) – would result in even higher energy rates when we already lead the United States (US) in having the highest electricity rates in the nation. SB 100would commit California’s utilities, “to getting all of their electricity from renewable sources by 2045.” According to Californians for Affordable and Reliable Energy (CARE) California pays 47% higher rates and bills have gone up 22% since 2010. Additionally:

“Californians paid $5.3 billion more for electricity than the average ratepayer. Employers pay nearly an additional $10 billion more in higher electricity costs, which get built into the costs of every product and service bought in the state.”

Heavily minority and poorer areas of California in the rural and Central Valley pay 52% higher rates than the Bay area; and 44% higher in the Inland Empire than the Los Angeles basin. SB 100 doesn’t consider how this will directly hurt working families, job creation and continue missing out on the energy revolution taking place across the US; particularly, Texas.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported in mid August that Texas exported more crude oil than imported in April. Exports from the Houston-Galveston port district that is part of the Texas Gulf Coast terminals exceeded imports by 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) in April and by May exports exceeded imports by 470,000 bpd. Meaning, total US oil exports are projected to hit a record of 2 million bpd this year with Houston-Galveston’s share exceeding 70%. Texas is on track before year’s end to be the biggest oil producer after Russia and Saudi Arabia through calculations from HSBC by producing roughly 6 million bpd. If the Monterrey Shale and coastlines were opened for even limited exploration California could be creating well-paying entry-level, Middle class and white-collar jobs and economic growth. Instead we are pursuing renewable energy.

Renewable energy has major problems dealing with intermittent delivery (sun not shining correctly or wind blowing at a steady pace), more expensive than natural gas and nuclear when levelized costs are factored into the energy equation and renewables need continual backup from fossil fuels so electricity is delivered to ratepayers. And presently, California produces excess energy from solar that California ratepayers pay other states to take off our antiquated grid. According to the EIA the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which runs the electrical grid, pays as much as $25 per megawatt-hour to a state like Arizona when typically utility buyers would pay on average $14-$45 per megawatt-hour when there isn’t a glut of electricity from solar.

But there is a larger issue that hampers renewable energy that rarely receives attention; and that is the “huge land requirements,” that SB 100 would require according to Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute in a Los Angeles Times article titled, “All-renewable energy in California? Sorry, land-use calculations say it’s not going to happen.” In the article Mr. Bryce shares a study that Stanford civil and environmental engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson did when he added up the numbers of what it would take for California to achieve 100% renewable energy from SB 100. Professor Jacobson reasonably estimates:

“It would require 124,608 megawatts of onshore wind-power capacity, 32,869 megawatts of offshore wind capacity, and 236,243 megawatts of solar-energy capacity.”

In 2017, “global solar capacity totaled about 219,000 megawatts.” California would need more solar capacity than currently exists globally and Jacobson’s energy-math would need, “33,000 megawatts of concentrated solar plants, or roughly 87 facilities as large as the 377-megawatt Ivanpah solar complex.” Ivanpah is located in the Mojave Desert and covers 5.4 square miles. Environmentalists put up a fierce fight to stop or limit Ivanpah over the endangered desert tortoise.

Wind energy also has a large onshore or offshore footprint that breaks down, “to about 3 watts per square meter,” according to the Department of Energy. Professor Jacobson postulates that California would need 124.6 billion watts of onshore wind capacity, which means state officials would need to set aside, “41.5 billion square meters or about 16,023 square miles of turbines.” Los Angeles is a little more than 4,000 square miles – and if SB 100 is passed and implemented – California would cover a land area four times larger than Los Angeles County (the largest county in the US) with nothing but windmills.

Political issues also affect wind power when in 2015 the Los County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to ban large wind turbines in unincorporated areas of LA County. San Diego, Solano, and Inyo counties also have passed restrictions on turbines. The head of the California Wind Energy Association told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “We’re facing restrictions like that all around the state…It’s pretty bleak in terms of the potential for new development.” California now has 5,632 of megawatts installed wind capacity, 153 megawatts less than in 2013. The anti-turbine restriction policies seem to be winning.

Now begin to do the math of the amount of land that it would take for wind and solar to achieve energy parity when San Onofre Nuclear plant (SONGS) is closed. San Francisco (SF) is about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km), for wind to replace San Onofre it would take land 6 times the size of SF and for solar it would require land 12% the size of SF. Furthermore, it would take 84 acres to produce 2,200 megawatts of power whereas SONGS only requires 0.13 square miles. To replace Diablo Canyon’s 2,160 megawatts will also require enormous land sprawl from wind and solar to achieve one-for-one megawatt replacement.

Even once popular wind projects like the 468-megawatt Massachusetts Cape Wind Project – met fierce opposition that ultimately scuttled the project – over locating dozens of turbines offshore. Would Californians accept onshore or offshore wind projects that are many times larger than what was proposed in Massachusetts? If California doesn’t want drilling to occur off pristine coastlines are they willing to wreck home values, expropriate vast amounts of land and wreck local land-use policies that expanding renewable energy requires to run our modern, technologically advanced state? That is difficult to envision once you understand the math behind the projections that it would take for SB 100 to achieve.