Newsom declares a “clean energy victory” as California’s energy costs are the highest on the mainland United States

California Governor Gavin Newsom celebrated a significant achievement in clean energy by announcing a tenfold increase in battery capacity. This comes as no surprise as the state’s energy costs have recently skyrocketed, now ranking as the highest in the contiguous United States and double the national average. In fact, California’s energy prices are only surpassed by Hawaii, the island state in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Newsom’s proclamation marks a major milestone in the state’s ongoing efforts to prioritize sustainable and affordable energy solutions.

According to Governor Newsom, California has experienced a significant increase in its battery storage capacity over the past five years. In fact, the state has seen its capacity grow more than tenfold during this time. Newsom emphasizes the importance of this growth, stating that it signifies an energy storage revolution that aligns with California’s transition from a grid powered by fossil fuels to one powered by clean energy.

During Earth Week, Governor Newsom made an announcement regarding the state’s impressive battery storage capacity of 10,379 megawatts. To put this into perspective, California consumes 259.5 terawatts of energy annually, which breaks down to approximately 711,000 megawatts per day. With the current battery storage capacity, the state can sustain its energy needs for a duration of 21 minutes. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the estimated cost for grid-scale energy is around $245 per kWh. Therefore, utilizing today’s advanced technology, the total cost for this system would amount to $2.5 billion.

Between January 2021 and January 2024, the three largest utilities in the state, namely Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric, saw an increase in rates for residential homes. Pacific Gas and Electric raised their rates by 63% to $0.40 per kWh, Southern California Edison increased rates by 52% to $0.33 per kWh, and San Diego Gas and Electric experienced a 13% increase to $0.36 per kWh. It is worth noting that the national average for residential energy costs is $0.16 per kWh, making these rate hikes significant. In fact, only Hawaii has higher home energy costs, with rates at $0.44 per kWh.

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According to the California Public Advocates Office, a state government office, the primary factors contributing to the high energy costs in California are wildfire mitigation, investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure, and incentives for rooftop solar. These factors are essential for managing the fluctuating renewable energy sources and ensuring efficient energy distribution across the grid.

The rooftop solar incentives in the state lead to transfer payments of around $6.5 billion per year from non-solar generating households to solar-generating households. This amounts to approximately 15% of the energy bills of non-solar generating households. It is worth noting that solar-generating households tend to have double the median income of non-solar generating households.

During the day in California, the abundance of solar energy has reached a point where prices have gone negative. This means that wholesale buyers are actually being paid to consume energy.

Improper management of forests has resulted in a significant rise in wildfires. Approximately 40% of California’s forests, which amounts to around 7.5 million acres of federal forests and 5.6 million acres of state-managed forests, are in need of the removal of fire-prone brush buildup that often triggers these devastating fires. This can be done through manual removal or controlled burns. However, at the current rate of treating only 100,000 acres of at-risk forest per year, it would take California 56 years to clear the backlog of forest areas that require treatment. It is important to note that this estimate does not account for any additional areas that may require treatment in the future.

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