Wind turbines spin at the Ocotillo facility in Imperial County. Photo by Chris Stone

A cosmic policy convergence is brewing a nasty storm that will hit California hard in a few years. With deadlines for an all-renewable electricity grid as well as the end of sales of new gasoline-powered cars bearing down on the state, we’re facing a future of commonplace blackouts and energy prices so high some might be tempted to light candles to ward off the dark.

No one will be able to say a proper warning was never issued. A senior automotive industry executive told a Senate committee recently that “if we are to make dramatic progress in electrification, it will require overcoming tremendous challenges, including refueling infrastructure, (and) battery availability.” He is from the same company, Toyota, whose CEO, Akio Toyoda, a few months ago “explained to his audience that Japan would deplete its supply of electricity in the summer if all cars were running on electric power.”

This isn’t the case of an automaker trying to protect his business, which has been based on gasoline-powered cars for more than eight decades and recently announced it was making a $210 million investment to boost production of its V6 engines. It’s an instance of an experienced businessman laying out the facts policymakers don’t want to hear.

Elon Musk, whose Tesla company builds electric vehicles, also sees the looming challenges. An all-electric fleet, he’s said, will double electricity consumption.

The storm gales began to blow with the passage of Senate Bill 100 in 2018. This “landmark” legislation demands that 100 percent of the electricity generated in the state must be from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2045. Governor Gavin Newsom then seeded the clouds in September with executive order N-79-20, which bans the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2035.  

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