Pros and Cons of Gas Power Plants

September 2020


Severin Borenstein, Energy Institute Faculty Director, discusses with KCRW whether or not the state is making a good decision on keeping some gas power plants open in order to maintain California’s power grid.

“‘California is pretty short of generation capacity these days, particularly at the end of the day when the sun is setting. We have a lot of solar energy, but as the sun sets, we need something else to fill in. And these plants are flexible, and can ramp up pretty quickly; they can provide that power we need just for short periods of time when demand in the whole system is high (like a hot day and when the sun is setting).’ The plants have been targeted to shut down for a while since they target marine life with their greenhouse gas emissions, but this is just a small amount compared to California’s emission overall. “Keeping these open for a couple more years is a pretty small contribution” adds Borenstein. “The state has really dropped the ball on long term planning for electricity reliability as we phase out these plants…California has to revamp the entire way it goes about making sure we have adequate generation capacity…We need to be planning hour by hour, how we’re going to meet the demand in the system.”‘