Ms. Olivia Campbell-Andersen is the executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont, an organization of more than a hundred businesses, law firms and lobbyists peddling subsidies for wind and solar electricity. It should come as no surprise that she is quick to try to dispel the idea California’s reliance on intermittent wind and solar electricity had something to do with its recent power grid blackouts.

By contrast, no interest group is paying me to analyze and write on public issues, certainly not utilities and fossil fuel interests. I try to give readers responsible, independent and informed analysis of issues.

The California electric blackouts are very useful warnings to us to avoid the policies that caused them. Ms. Campbell-Andersen cites the president of CAISO, the California grid operator, who denies that reliance on wind and solar electricity has anything to do with the blackouts. Of course, he does. If he didn’t, the governor and the renewable energy politicians would have his head.

He was, however, quoted more candidly in a trade publication (E&E News) saying “The situation we are in could have been avoided. … For many years we have pointed out to the procurement authorizing authorities that there was inadequate power available.” meaning, during the hours after sunset when solar energy disappears.

Before I published, I discussed my commentary with one of the most respected independent power grid experts in New England, Meredith Angwin, who lives in Wilder. I quoted her prediction that “New England will probably have rolling blackouts by 2025, due to reliance on intermittent renewables and just-in-time deliveries of natural gas.”

On her energy blog, Meredith went on to say “The problems that have caused the rolling blackouts are not unique to California. One issue is that California is moving aggressively toward more and more use of renewables, particularly solar. However, when the sun goes down, solar can be a problem. In fact, solar often acts like a single megaplant, which switches off in the early evening.”

Ms. Campbell-Andersen’s solution to the coming threat of blackouts is — wait for it — more renewables! More (inefficient and costly) storage (that will keep the lights on in Barre for maybe four hours into a blackout). It’s the same message we’ve heard for years from the subsidy mongers at Renewable Energy Vermont. She’s saying what she’s paid to say, but readers need to go well beyond her self-serving message to get a grip on New England’s likely grid power crunch.

Ms. Campbell-Andersen trots out, with no evidence, the charge that I favor “burning more fossil fuels.” Not true. I support conservation, efficiency and phasing out coal as soon as possible. The solution is reliable, dispatchable Generation IV modular nuclear plants that keep on generating when the wind dies down and the sky goes dark. I do not favor more subsidies, mandates and taxes to feed the owners of the renewable industries she represents, whose response to what they promote as the “climate emergency” will do little more than make them richer.

John McClaughry is the vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Kirby.

(1) comment

Mike from Worcester

ISO regulates the rolling blackouts:

“The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) is a non-profit Independent System Operator (ISO) serving California.[1] It oversees the operation of California's bulk electric power system, transmission lines, and electricity market generated and transmitted by its member utilities. The primary stated mission of CAISO is to "operate the grid reliably and efficiently, provide fair and open transmission access, promote environmental stewardship, and facilitate effective markets and promote infrastructure development." [2] The CAISO is one of the largest ISOs in the world, delivering 300 million megawatt-hours of electricity each year and managing about 80% of California's electric flow.” - source- Wikipedia.


“There has been considerable debate over the past week about the causes of California’s rolling blackouts. Many have taken the opportunity to blame California’s focus on renewable power, though according to Steven Berberich, the CEO of the California ISO ("CAISO"), "renewables are really not a factor" in the outages, "it’s simply a matter of raw capacity."

The causes of the rolling blackouts on August 14 and 15 may be numerous and complex, but few of those reasons have anything to do with California’s shift to more renewable generation. Fundamentally, the challenges faced by CAISO this past week and a half were significantly exacerbated by climate change.” source- Utility Dives

Meredith Angwin- a life boosting nuclear power:

“Meredith Angwin is a devoted nuclear advocate and author of the recent award-winning book Campaigning for Clean Air. Her book is designed to help people get started with their own nuclear advocacy. She serves as one of two Vermont representatives to the steering committee of the Consumer Liaison Group of ISO-NE, New England’s grid operator. She also writes at her blog Yes Vermont Yankee, is a guest writer for Energy Northwest and the American Nuclear Society blogs, and writes for Nuclear Engineering International Magazine in Britain.” Source- her website.

DO Vermonters really want nuclear power? What really is this message?ates the rolling blackouts:

Michael Meninger (a non-fan of Chernobyl and Fukajima)

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