Statement from New Yorkers for Affordable Energy on the Recent Spate of Blackouts in California

September 14, 2020

“The recent spate of blackouts in California should alarm every New York State resident, taxpayer, and our governing class.

Like New York, California has been claiming to lead the way towards a clean energy future, but in their zeal to get there, they have made policy decisions that are detrimental to the residents of their state.

When the Mayor of the second largest city in America has to encourage his residents to turn off and unplug all major appliances, set thermostats to 78 degrees, and use a fan instead of air conditioning during the middle of a heat wave and a pandemic, it should serve as a wake up call that something is fundamentally wrong and will only get worse if we continue on our current path.

A recent blog post by Cheryl Lafleur, the former Chairwoman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), highlighted some of the critical issues plaguing California and made critical recommendations about how to fix it.

The simple truth is, New York is headed for the same fate without a serious change in direction.

Some food for thought:

  • New York’s energy generation and distribution system is complex and involves dozens of state and federal regulatory agencies, creating bureaucratic malaise and making it difficult for energy projects to get approved.
  • The further New York moves to intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar, the more vital it is to have natural gas power plants online and available to cycle up as quickly as the wind stops blowing or the sun goes behind a cloud. In other words, we need dispatchable energy available at any given moment to address the market demand, especially when renewable energy is not available, or in the event of a “black start” situation, to help the energy grid recover in the event of a total or partial shutdown.
  • With the shut down of Indian Point in 2021, the rejection of new natural gas pipelines or power plants, and the lack of large scale renewable projects in the Hudson Valley and Long Island, New York is creating a basic supply and demand problem. It’s why Con-Ed and National Grid both proposed moratoriums on new natural gas hookups.

While the answer may not be politically acceptable to activists and some of our governing class, it is a simple one: natural gas is a reliable partner in the move towards a clean energy future and must be part of the conversation and planning.

If not, New York will soon face the harsh reality that is leaving California in the dark.”