California: Energy Dissonance

By August 14, 2007Energy

Could California be recognizing that its anti-energy, anti-generation policies are going to cripple its manufacturing economy? Make the state prohibitively expensive to employers? And consumers? From the Los Angeles Times, August 4:

Southern California air quality regulators approved rule changes Friday that could speed the construction of 11 or more power plants across the region — a decision that could bring an estimated $419 million to public coffers.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District board, in an 8-3 vote, gave power plant developers the opportunity buy credits to offset the pollution that would be released by the new facilities. The credits were originally intended for schools, hospitals and other emergency agencies.

The story never clearly states what sort of power plants these would be; one assumes natural gas-fired plants, given California’s hostility toward other forms of generation. And the article includes lots of the usual howling from opponents of economic reality. But…still…well…progress! Right? From May 21, 2007:

SAN FRANCISCO: BHP Billiton, the largest Australian oil producer, has said that it needed time to evaluate the future of its proposed California natural gas-import facility now that the governor of the state, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has rejected the project.

The $800 million Cabrillo Port facility in Southern California was first proposed in August 2003. It would have been able to process enough natural gas to satisfy about 10 percent of the demand in California. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, turned down the proposal because of environmental concerns.

Ah, we see, natural gas is fine as long as it’s purely theoretical. Or comes via pipeline from Oregon. Or Mexico.

However, to be fair, we acknowledge one other positive develoment… for the moment. Woodside Natural Gas has proposed the OceanWay offshore facility, where LNG would be reconverted to gas on-board, far away from population centers and shipping lanes. These offshore LNG ports may well be the coming thing.

For California’s sake, one hopes SOMETHING is the coming thing, energywise. The alternative is the continual transformation of the state’s economy and culture into a service-based society. And even services need energy.

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