Can the Last Person Leaving California…
…please turn off the lights…oh wait, with decisions like this the lights will probably already be off. For those of you not living in California, particularly Southern California, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) provides (IIRC) 2,150 MW to Southern California. The steam generators are going to need to be replaced by 2009. Without the money to do it, Southern California Edison may very well shut down the plant.
Now that doesn’t sound that awful, but lets recall California has pretty much ruled out coal fired generation plants. This new ruling and the fact that California has been traditionally hostile to electricity generation via nuclear power, and the only viable source of electricity. The problem is that California’s energy needs are growing and renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass just aren’t ready to produce the kind of electricity we are talking about.
Further, with increased demand for natural gas, it is likely that the price of natural gas is going to remain high and go even higher. Thus, California is going to see electricity rates rise for the foreseeable future, and California already has pretty darned high electricity rates. Now, one might think, well it can’t be that bad. But it can. With the last crisis the CPUC decided to hit large industrial customers and large residential customers (which is probably highly correlated with wealth) the hardest. In some cases, it wasn’t unheard of to watch some people’s bills go well into several hundred dollars over the course of one month. Add on the high heating bills (yes, California has pretty mild weather, but is can still get chilly during the winter months), and more and more people and businesses might decide to look for greener pastures.
Personally, while fewer people on the freeways is an appealing notion, the idea of fewer businesses is not all that good. Especially for a state saddled with a huge and bloated budget, no interest in cutting the pork out of spending, and that generally it not seen as a good thing to be driving businesses from your state. I tell ya, with state officials like the one’s California is stuck with, who needs enemies? If Osama bin Laden was thinking of staging a terrorist attack on California, I’d say, “No, look for a better target, we seem to be shooting ourselves just fine, thank you very much.”
Oh, and if you think your okay because you live in Nevada, Idaho, or New Mexico, bad news: California will try to find a way of satisfying the demand in the state. If you have independent power producers in your state, you might soon find they are sending their electricity to California to capitalize on the high prices. This in turn could cause problems with electricity prices in your state.