AMAC Exclusive – By Thomas M. Fortescue
For many years, Californians have grown accustomed to regular and increasingly frantic annual warnings that summertime could bring power disruptions. But this is no longer just a California problem. Perhaps for the first time in our history, similar warnings are being issued across the United States. The richest, most powerful nation on earth (we are told) will no longer be able to guarantee that it can get through the summer without rolling blackouts. This used to be something Americans would be warned about experiencing in other countries. Now that country is their own.
For California politicians, the usual scapegoats for blackouts are high winds (i.e., nature), record-breaking fires (i.e., not the fault of lawmakers in Sacramento), and “climate change” (i.e., it’s your fault the lights went out). Unsurprisingly, the cost of energy in California has been increasing faster than the general rate of inflation, disproportionately harming low income workers in the state.
But now, the blackout warnings that California residents have grown accustomed to have been exported to Texas, Indiana, and many other states, which are issuing dire warnings about the possibility of blackouts. California’s grid operator expects the usual shortages this summer, especially if the fire season is as bad as last year. Likewise, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which oversees power in much of the Midwest, declared it could be forced to take “emergency measures” this summer due to capacity shortfalls.
According to a study by the Wall Street Journal, large, sustained power outages have greatly increased since 2000. At the turn of the century, less than two dozen major power disruptions took place. By 2020, that number was greater than 180—an increase of nearly 800%. This didn’t even include the historic outages in Texas in 2021, or the latest wildfire-induced outages in California.
One of the primary causes of this escalating crisis is an aging grid that generations of politicians have failed to address. Much of the current power distribution system was built after World War II. Some lines were even built well before that. The American Society of Civil Engineers says that 70% of America’s power distribution system is well into the second half of its expected 50-year lifespan, and they predict that by 2029, the U.S. will face a $200 billion gap in funding to update the grid.
In short, what most have considered a “California problem” is quickly becoming an America problem.
What is driving this? A big part of the problem is Democrats’ rigid demands for a complete and immediate “transition” to so-called “renewable energy.” An increasing portion of America’s power generation comes from wind and solar farms, which, as the Wall Street Journal observes, “are among the cheapest forms of power generation [but] don’t produce electricity at all times and need large batteries to store their output for later use.”
What of the other cleaner alternatives to wind and solar, such as nuclear energy? In California, Governor Newsom has said he would consider not retiring a nuclear power plant in order to keep up with energy demand. But the fact that nuclear energy—which is completely clean—could be excluded from California’s “renewable” grid is absurd. Countries like France, for example, derive approximately 70% of their energy from nuclear power. Nuclear power plants produce zero emissions and are a reliable source of power that doesn’t depend on batteries. Thus, to exclude nuclear is to openly admit that Americans will be paying drastically and needlessly higher energy prices during this “transition.”
The same is true when it comes to cars. JP Morgan, for example, is now predicting that the national average for gasoline will exceed $6 per gallon not just in California (where the state average is already above $6) but in every state of the union.
Since gas prices began to rise (long before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden’s favorite scapegoat), the Biden administration has exhibited an odd and truly tone-deaf obsession with pushing electric vehicles. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg infamously responded to concerns about high gras prices by suggesting Americans purchase electric vehicles—which, as of now, are far more expensive than the average gas-powered vehicle, and that’s assuming Americans can afford to buy a new car at all given the record-high inflation eating into their paychecks.
What’s President Biden’s answer to this catastrophe? Just recently, he said, “When it comes to gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger, and the world will be stronger, and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over…This is going to be a haul. This is going to take some time.”
In other words, this is intentional. This is no accident.
No one should be shocked by this. In one of their 2020 debates, President Trump asked Biden directly, “Would you close down the oil industry?” Biden responded, “I would transition from the oil industry, yes…It is a big statement…It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time.”
To make matters worse, China dominates many aspects of the current “renewable energy” industry. For example, China produces 76% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries—the ones required to make wind and solar work—whereas the U.S. only produces 8%. China has built up a similar dominance in the solar industry, and also dominates in electric vehicle production.
So not only is the Biden administration tone-deaf and heartless with respect to the financial strains being put on Americans, but its approach all but guarantees that American adversaries like Communist China will continue to profit from the progressive effort to gut major portions of the American energy industry.
California has said it will use 100% “renewable energy” by 2045. If recent years are any indication, that means Golden State residents may soon be lighting their homes with candles and lamps for a good portion of the year. With Biden set on pursuing the same strategy for the country at large, the United States may, like California, be transformed from a state of limitless opportunities for people of all backgrounds, to one where the rich, the powerful, and the connected can impose their own virtue-signaling projects while the costs are borne by everyone else.
Thomas M. Fortescue is the pen name of a former White House official and bestselling author on topics ranging from religion and history to politics and the American founding. His pseudonym honors three heroes who together represent some of the greatest achievements of Western civilization—St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas More, and Sir John Fortescue. He can be followed on Twitter @ThomasFortescue.