On November 21, President Biden announced $1.1 billion to help keep California’s last nuclear power plant open. President Biden’s announcement rewards bad energy policies, while sending a message to states like Arizona that doing the right thing will go unnoticed. It gives $1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money to save a clean, baseload energy resource that should have never been closing in the first place.
California anti-nuclear ‘green’ energy policies, including “renewable energy” mandates, “energy efficiency” mandates, and “community choice aggregation,” have forced electric utilities in California to shut down reliable clean energy resources, like nuclear (1, 2, 3) and replace them with new, unreliable and intermittent renewable energy technologies, like wind and solar.
While California advocates have demanded ‘green’ energy mandates in the name of fighting climate change, reducing costs, and providing grid benefits, they have actually resulted in more greenhouse gas emissions (1, 2), higher electricity prices (1, 2, 3), and rolling blackouts and power outages (1, 2, 3, 4).
These capacity shortfalls, price spikes, and other unintended consequences have caused California’s energy grid to be called the “worst in the nation.” According to Adam Millsap, Senior Fellow at Stand Together Trust, California’s energy policy shows us exactly “what not to do.”
Yet, environmental special interests and members of the climate lobby like Environment California and the Sierra Club continue to push for more ‘green’ energy policies and refuse to accept the fact that nuclear energy is essential to a clean energy transition (1).
Arizonans know the pitfalls of California’s ‘green’ energy policies. In Arizona, we recognize the value of nuclear energy in the transition to a clean energy economy and have worked to include nuclear power in the state’s long-term energy plan (1, 2). Moreover, we have rejected efforts (1, 2, 3) by out-of-state interests to adopt California-style ‘green’ energy mandates that would have hurt nuclear power in Arizona (1, 2, 3).
Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is the largest nuclear power plant in the United States. It provides enough power to serve over 4 million people and is the largest clean energy resource in the state, contributing up to 70% of Arizona’s total clean energy production. Because of its clear benefits, it has played a vital role in maintaining safe and reliable service for both Arizona and California over the years, as well as in the development of a potential hydrogen hub in the West, by providing the opportunity to pair the production of clean hydrogen with nuclear.
As a result of Arizona’s more sensible approach, our largest electric utilities have adopted their own, voluntary commitments to achieve clean energy, which include nuclear, and I have adopted my own, personal policy statement to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050 as an overarching goal for utilities, when safe and reliable for the grid and affordable for customers. These approaches allow for good utility planning, combined with competitive procurements, to help guide the way, thereby maintaining grid reliability and affordability for everyone.
Now, with electricity prices “soaring,” a grid on the “brink of collapse,” and the threat of rolling blackouts and even higher energy prices looming in the future (1, 2, 3), policymakers in California are scrambling to back-track on many of their environmental policies, including the effort to close Diablo Canyon (1) and providing $1.4 billion to PG&E to help keep the plant open (1).
But it’s not enough. Apparently, California needs a bailout from taxpayers nationwide to help keep its lights on.
Nearly 1 year after signing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into effect and authorizing up to $6 billion to help save struggling nuclear plants, President Biden’s first award is to give $1.1 billion to California to “save” a nuclear power plant that should have never been closing in the first place.
California’s nuclear energy shutdowns are not the result of simple market economics–they are the result of California’s self-inflicted bad energy policies.
California’s policymakers failed to acknowledge the physical and economic realities of operating the grid, while Arizona policymakers rejected special interests and fought hard to keep nuclear power in Arizona’s clean energy mix.
Is this the message President Biden is trying to send with his energy policy? One state does energy policy the ‘right’ way and avoids a bailout, while the other state does energy policy the ‘wrong’ way and lands a windfall.
Is the Biden Administration awarding money where it is deserved?