In California, the state government is pushing us Californians away from gasoline and natural gas and towards electricity. The California Air Resources Board wants to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles and even hybrid vehicles effective in 2035. I say “wants to” rather than “will” because I don’t think it will succeed. It also plans to mandate, in 2025, but effective in 2030, a ban on new purchases of natural gas-powered water heaters and space heaters. I guess CARB prefers that natural gas be used to produce electricity, with the attendant loss of efficiency in transmission, over the direct use in homes. I’m not sure why.
What CARB is doing is gradually reducing diversity in energy usage. That makes us more vulnerable when the electric power goes out. My wife and I lost electric power 6 times between December 10 and today. Typically it was for a few hours. On New Year’s eve, it was for 9 hours. I remember when it came on after the 6th time, we commented to each other that electricity and light felt like a luxury. (Why did it go out? Heavy rain that uprooted trees that have shallow roots, causing the trees to fall on power lines.)
A friend of mine in an apartment in San Francisco had a much worse experience on Friday. His power was out for many hours. He works from home on a desktop computer, not a laptop computer. So he couldn’t work. He thought, therefore, of driving somewhere in his car. But his car is parked in a garage attached to the apartment block and the gate to the garage opens electronically. So he couldn’t get his car out.
How about, then, going for a walk? Surely he could do that. Two problems. First, because the power was out, there was no light in the hallway or the stairwell. Both have emergency lighting but because the outage lasted so long, were out of juice. I asked him if he could have used a flashlight to go down the 5 stories to the outside but he said that at his age, he didn’t feel safe doing so. Second, the door to get back into his apartment complex is attached to electric power. So yes, he could have gone for a walk. But he wouldn’t have been able to get back into his apartment.
Oh, and because the water heating system in his apartment has an electric component, he couldn’t get a nice hot shower.
This is electricity hell, and it’s what the state government is planning for millions of Californians.
Note: My friend read this in advance to make sure I got the facts right. He wanted me to add that his cat didn’t like it either.
Feb 28 2023 at 11:53am
My little blue zone of Ann Arbor wants to do about the same. The rub is that they can’t get the state or the regional electric utility to phase out natural gas so there is an effort for the city to buy out the utility and run it as a city department (which, then would be able to get rid of new gas hookups). Yikes — what a ruinously expensive nightmare that would be! Oh, and, it just so happens that we experienced a major ice storm with some customers (fortunately not including us) having to go without power for several days. With natural gas and a generator, you can run your furnace. With electric-only heat (as the city would like), you’d get to freeze. Of course, not to worry, I suppose since proponents assure us that once the city is responsible for running a local electric utility, power outages will be a thing of the past.
One note on the gas-powered car phaseout — long before 2035, California has an aggressive phaseout timetable. Sales are required to be 26% EVs by 2026, 51% by 2029 and 61% by 2030. So reality is likely to start biting in just a few years.
Feb 28 2023 at 1:33pm
Thanks, Mark W.
Yes, as you say, they will “bite” earlier. The big bite will be in 2029. I predict, possibly too optimistically, that we’ll have a huge consumer revolt then.
Mar 1 2023 at 6:39am
“With natural gas and a generator, you can run your furnace.”
And with natural gas but no generator, you can run your gas stovetop if all else fails.
Mar 1 2023 at 12:41pm
A bit difficult to have a mix of natural gas and electric cooking capability, but easily solved with a propane BBQ.
Feb 28 2023 at 1:24pm
For someone of the ‘laptop class’ in SF, not having a laptop is a bad idea. A desktop computer is too important, and too relatively cheap these days (heck, if it’s SF, he can probably find a quite decent laptop being given away somewhere), to not have a backup – not necessarily so you can get work done during a power outage (your internet may be out too), but for when (not if) the desktop dies. What is he going to work on then, regardless of the electrical status? And if he’s a serious desktop user, much of his digital life & long-term assets will now be on it; he should be terrified to have only one instance. (The law of backups is that you always have 1 fewer than you think you do.)
A UPS wouldn’t be a bad idea either, given California’s power grid seems likely to degrade further, and there are many ways to fry or damage a computer beyond ‘a power outage for a few hours’. Laptops are also better for travel. (And for the same reasons, it may be more valuable to have the option to leave the apartment rather than remain trapped to await whatever the problem du jour is…)
Feb 28 2023 at 1:33pm
You’re preaching to the converted here. But I’ll suggest to my friend that he read your comment.
dennis e miller
Mar 2 2023 at 12:30am
From what I hear, you can go down to the store and get any laptop under $900 for free on a five-finger discount.
Mar 2 2023 at 12:41pm
So I hear, so I hear. Five-finger discounts seem to be the thing in the SF Bay area these days.
Mar 3 2023 at 11:30am
I hadn’t heard the term “five finger discount” before. Creepy.
Mar 3 2023 at 2:11pm
A learned man not knowing the “economic” term “five-finger discount”…I’m so ashamed! Ha Ha! Hopefully, you realize its a term for theft rather than sacrificing fingers. Miss those days in Econ at NPS.
Feb 28 2023 at 1:40pm
If you had a house, maybe consider investing in a couple of those Tesla Wall batteries. From what I hear, if the power goes out, your lights won’t even flicker. Not sure if that would be possible if one lived in an apartment building..
Feb 28 2023 at 7:33pm
Your reference to apartments brings up the largest absurdity of EV mandates: unless you own your own house (a $500,000 + investment in Los Angeles), or live in a very new development where $3,000/mo rents include parking with EV charging, how are people supposed to charge these EV’s?
The whole thing is an elitist FU to the tens of millions of working class Californians who live in 70-year-old apartment buildings (like me, and my rent for a shared 2br just crossed $2,000) and don’t work at green think tanks.
Feb 28 2023 at 5:47pm
You just can’t fix stupid, ignorant or crazy.
Feb 28 2023 at 6:53pm
I’ve noticed that a lot of climate change regs follow this pattern. The new rule is always safely far in the future so that the people creating it get the glory of doing something without people seeing many of the negative consequences until long after they’ve moved on.
Using the gas powered car example, I think a more honest approach would be to cap sales at 100% of current levels and then reduce the cap 8.3% each year. It’s still a questionable policy, but having to live with the consequences of their own policy during their political careers would make people more cautious about these sort of drastic changes planned for far in the future.
Mar 1 2023 at 3:25pm
You nailed it. Gov. Newsom and the current Democrats love to pass laws that they will never have to enforce. The good thing about Newsom is that for all the plans he has, they rarely come to fruition.
Mar 1 2023 at 10:08am
Because of the knife-in-socket photo, Facebook blocked my sharing of this article and sent me a stock message asking me if I needed help.
Mar 1 2023 at 10:38am
I got the same reaction from Facebook. I didn’t realize it was because of the picture.
I’ll change the pic and see if I can post on FB.
Thanks for mentioning this.
Mar 1 2023 at 10:55am
I got rid of the picture but the software wouldn’t let me put another one in. So I thought that I could post on FB without a pic. But when I do, the pic shows up. So, the hell with it, so to speak.
Mar 1 2023 at 11:06am
One of the things gwern and Warren Platts’s comments above point out is how big of a broken window problem CA’s move is: in order to maintain the standard of living, David’s friend (and countless other Californians) need to consume real resources (laptops, backup chargers, etc). Those real resources could have been used for other things but instead have to be used just to get Californians back to where they were.
Mar 1 2023 at 3:27pm
Well… you don’t have to live there.
This is hardly a canary in the mine shaft moment. Californians have been writing things on paper and believing that that’s all it takes for years. Cage free chicken eggs only, no price raises in utilities, etc… These are fairy tales that Californians, Washingtonians and Eastern Oregonians believe in. Write it on a piece of paper, give it to your assemblyperson to pass without considering the reality of it or the consequences there of. When California used to give us fantasies they were at the movie theaters…
Now, I expect to see Snow White on the California Governor’s ballot and can’t wait for the consternation you guys will feel when she doesn’t show up for work on inauguration day.
So glad two mountain ranges separate thee and me!
Mar 3 2023 at 11:34am
You guys? You write as if you think that we all voted for this stuff. I didn’t. And millions of Californians didn’t.
Mar 1 2023 at 3:28pm
This is why I bought my hybrid in 2023. Being very near to retirement, I expect it is the last car that I will buy. I am currently getting 50+ mpg, and with the little driving I do, filling up every even month of the year (Feb, Apr, etc). My wife will not use an electric stovetop, and we will keep the gas stovetop we bought a few years ago. (We believe this may add to the value of the home when we sell.)
When we have a fall in temperatures (maybe after one or two more solar cycles), I wonder if we as a state (and a world) will reconsider the evil that CO2 is currently considered to be.
Mar 1 2023 at 4:25pm
This is one of the many reasons we decided to leave my native state of California after over 60 years. Kleptofornica is becoming a failed state, and at some point the economy and tax base will collapse under this kind of insanity. Out here in Tennessee we and other refugees from the Golden (burnt) State marvel at sub $3 gas and utility bills half our previous rates. Our roads are in better condition. Even with storms our electric service is more reliable. The mix of power sources here is astounding. I think this kind of diversity should be embraced in the same way an investment advisor would tell you to spread your risk: the long term outcome is better. But ultimately you can’t blame the politicians because they are a reflection of the electorate. Everything wrong with California is self-inflicted.
Mar 3 2023 at 11:31am
Nice. Thanks for implicitly proposed an alternative place for me to live.
Mar 1 2023 at 4:50pm
Interpreted literally, the mandates are an indication of insane government. But what if government is not insane but rather ideological? Then it is most likely they are using the mandate as a bluff. They are hoping to accelerate industry and citizens to fold – to convert to electric cars and electric heating and appliances. Ultimately, the mandate deadline will be shifted. People will find work-arounds. Gasoline powered cars and natural gas appliances will continue to be be in widespread use in California. But the ideologues will, in their private parties, pat themselves on the back for having moved the needle to electrification.
All the while, the earth’s climate will be fine.
Mar 2 2023 at 7:41pm
Perhaps the mandate deadline will shift. But there are real practical infrastructure decisions being made every day, by people and business owners, that must account for the announced legal deadlines.
For cars, CA already has the highest gasoline prices in the US. Recent research has estimated that 25% of the CA “premium” is because no new gas stations can be built here. Existing station owners get a rent premium as a result.
The same applies to car maintenance. Small auto shops, parts yards, transmission shops, are doomed when the law mandates EV’s that can only be serviced by dealers.
I drive a 50-year-old truck. (I require a truck to work, no modern vehicles have 8′ beds due to child safety laws, I own her outright, she is exempt from the magic unicorn emissions laws, and I will rise in armed rebellion against the government before I trust any vehicle with any software in it.) There are many classic vehicles in CA, and they are trying to send them all to the crusher with this mandate BS, not to mention stepping on the neck of the middle class.
Mar 1 2023 at 9:45pm
Hello from just up the road in Santa Cruz. I have always thought that mandates like the brain-dead ones you mention in your article must be quid pro quo arrangements. If Gavin wants me to switch to electricity for my water heater and toss my current gas-fired one, then he must require that the electric service be at least as reliable (and even better, as cheap) as gas service before anyone can be forced to switch or be denied the option of using gas. If he wants me to switch to an electric car, he must require that fast charging stations with low downtime be as available as open gasoline pumps, etc. That’s not to say that he should State resources to build or maintain those charging stations, only that nobody should be forced to switch to or be prevented from buying a gasoline or diesel car until the charger ubiquity requirement is satisfied. If Gavin wants us to cut back on water usage, his mandate can’t go into effect until projects for increasing water capture and storage in the areas covered by the mandate are approved and underway in good faith. If you want us to deal with a bad situation, Governor, you have to demonstrate that you are doing something that will be effective in alleviating the underlying problem. I’m long past being weary of giving politicians the benefit of the doubt in these cases. The people of California have, over and over again, shown their willingness to step up and do their part to help the State get through disasters and tough times. It is time for the “public servants” to SERVE.
Daniel Mark Stalling
Mar 1 2023 at 11:45pm
I found this interactive website on CO2 in the atmosphere. It allows you to look at World stats versus differen’t nations emissions. The things I notice is that the largest component of CO2 comes from coal burning. And the largest polluter it China hands down. Compare their stats to ours! And they continue to increase their use of it. At this point we are destroying our economy in a futile attempt to lower CO2. And there is no way that will happen if China doesn’t help out. And they won’t. Go down the page to the World chart and play with it.
Mar 2 2023 at 4:46pm
The people of California have also, over and over again, shown their willingness to keep voting for the kinds of leaders who create such mandates without alleviating the underlying problems.
Mar 4 2023 at 7:54am
Sounds like California is moving toward, if it hasn’t already, a third-world electricity grid where blackouts/outages are common. CA electricity rates are much higher than the national average and electricity reliability is sinking like the Titanic; and yet some other states are holding up CA as a model for the future. CA is pushing a clean energy agenda that will have a negligible effect on climate change. What is going on is so crazy but understandable in a world where climate change has wrongly been perceived as a existential threat because of biased news reporting and left-of-center politicians who want more government intervention. What a sad state of affairs where the average citizen suffers.
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