By Thomas Mitchell
NV Energy is urging its customers across the state to conserve energy between the hours of 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. due to the heat wave.
Similar pleas are being made in neighboring California, but according to a Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this week the blame lies not just with the heat but with the choices the state has made in how it generates its electricity. As of 2018 California was generating more than 32 percent of its electricity with renewable sources — 21 percent from just solar and wind.
The trouble with those is that they generate when the sun shines and the wind blows, which may not be when the peak demand occurs. In fact, power use spikes after the sun sets and people settle in for an evening in front of the A/C and power up their entertainment units, computers, stoves, lighting, etc.
A WSJ news story notes that California’s grid operator called twice for emergency outages over the past weekend due to inadequate power supplies, in part because demand peaked as solar production began its evening decline.” California has been relying far more heavily on natural-gas-fired power plants, which, unlike wind and solar farms, aren’t dependent on the weather to produce energy,” story notes.
Democrats in California have called by generating 60 percent of the state’s power with renewables by 2030.
Nevada currently generates 22 percent of its electricity via renewables. Could that be a contributing factor to the conservation warning?
Nevada Democrats, too, have ordered that 60 percent of power in the state come from renewables by 2030. In November 2018, Nevada voters approved by nearly 60 percent a constitutional amendment that would require 50 percent of the electricity consumed in the state to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.
In the 2019 legislative session lawmakers passed a law requiring the same thing and Gov. Steve Sisolak promptly signed it.
The constitutional amendment is back on the ballot in November. If passed it would take two votes of the people two years apart to change it. At least the law could be changed if electricity users begin to tire of rolling blackout caused but a lack of power when it is really needed. The voters might also wise up to the fact that renewables, once all the subsidies are included, actually cost four times as much as natural gas-generated power.
Let’s hope the cooler temperatures in November don’t cause voters to forget the threat that came in sultry August.
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Thomas Mitchell is a former newspaper editor who now writes conservative/libertarian columns for weekly papers in Nevada. You may email Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at