California now generates a third of its electricity from renewables, largely solar and wind. It is also experiencing its first electricity blackouts for two decades. The problem: it is prematurely closing gas and nuke plants that plugged the gap for intermittent wind and solar.
Battery storage is a possible solution. But not yet. California’s biggest facility, a lithium ion battery plant at Escondido, has the capacity to power 24,000 homes for 4 hours. The state has 13m households; a year has 8,760 hours. And a single Escondido costs circa €50m.
California also faces higher electricity prices: since 2011, they have increased 6 times faster than the rest of the US. Ave cost of residential electricity in California last year was 19.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, 47% higher than national ave of about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.
These high energy prices are especially tough for the 18% of Californians living in poverty, about 7m, and one of highest poverty rates in USA.
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