California beach cities oppose natural gas to replace San Onofre

wikimedia commons
wikimedia commons

California is scrambling to replace power due to the San Onofre nuclear plant shutdown. Natural gas plants would do the job yet several beach cities oppose them. What they don’t understand is renewable energy isn’t baseline power, it doesn’t generate 24/7. Without reliable baseline energy, power supplies could be problematic.

If taken to its extreme, these cities could have no backup power when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Moreover, depending on solar farms for daytime base-load power creates a fast ramping-down problem at sunset each day when the sun’s radiant energy is fading.

Wind energy typically isn’t available until early morning hours, if at all. The only reliable backup is natural gas-fired power plants.


  1. Actually, on a costal area wind is pretty regular. And while solar does drop off at the end of the day, it’s quite predictable when and how it’s going to happen most times. That allows for a planned ramp-in of other power sources (like natural gas). Mind you, you still have to have those plants and get them spun up. But spin up times for most of those is also quite predictable.

    • Good point, coastal wind is predictable. However, the beach NIMBYs would surely howl if someone attempted to install a gaggle of turbines in their towns.

      Natural gas ain’t great. However, it may be what we need until we transition to renewables.

  2. Let’s also not forget there are some “always on” renewables, like geothermal and tidal. I’m not sure we will ever get to a completely renewable state. But even getting to a point where most of our energy comes from renewables is better than the current situation. If we only need to burn NG on heavily over cast days, that still eliminates coal burnt now for all days, sunny or not.

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