Tag Archives: Big Brother

California’s Subsidised Solar Onslaught Threatens Total Grid Collpase

Power Plant; Utility


Solar has plenty of friends when the Sun’s up, but it’s an orphan after Sunset. And it’s that point when solar-obsessed Californians smack into reality, with a very costly bang.

Conventional generators – that were designed to run around-the-clock – get bumped off the grid as the output from solar panels peaks for a few hours during the day. Then, as the Sun dips over the horizon, the output from those conventional plants is ramped up at a staggering rate, and well beyond their original design parameters.

The relationship is depicted above, and it’s been given a name: the Duck Curve. Which is really just another name for chaos.

In one of our earlier posts, Donn Dears explained what’s happened since the Californian grid has been overloaded with solar, in these terms:

The Incredible, Amazing Duck
Power for USA
Donn Dears
29 October 2019

The Duck Curve was born in California, when the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) needed to explain how the addition of renewables affected the grid.

A quick explanation of the anatomy of the Duck Curve:

  • The topmost line is the hour by hour electric load before the addition of renewables, where all of the load is supplied by baseload power plants.
  • The orange body depicts the addition of renewables on the grid year by year, through 2020, where the orange area is supplied by renewables.
  • The heavy line at the bottom of the curve, and the lighter lines inside the orange body for intervening years, depict the load supplied by baseline power generation after the addition of renewables. 

Baseload power is typically supplied by natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants, or nuclear, hydro, or coal, or a combination of them depending on which area of the country is being discussed.

Here is what the Duck is telling us.

  1. As more and more renewables are added to the grid the amount of electricity supplied during the daylight hours is increasingly from renewables, primarily from solar in this depiction.
  2. Baseload power must be quickly reduced as the sun rises to allow renewables to supply the grid.
  3. When the sun sets, these same baseload power plants must suddenly ramp up to meet the demand in the evening. The sudden ramping up of the power plants damages the power plants, except hydro, and various components of the grid from thermal expansions and contractions.
  4. Renewables are intermittent, the sun may go behind a cloud or the wind may stop blowing, so the baseload power plants must be cycled up and down to meet the variations in load. Power plants are less efficient when they are cycled in this manner which can cause an increase in air pollution, such as NOx.

It’s obvious the sun won’t shine when it rains or snows, but it’s also true wind can’t generate electricity when the wind is less than 6 mph, such as on hot summer windless afternoons.  And wind turbines must be shut down when the wind blows over 55 mph, or when the temperatures go below minus 20 degree F in the winter.

  1. From after the sun sets until it rises in the morning, the preponderance of the electricity must come from baseload power plants, so they cannot be dismantled and eliminated. Renewables can’t eliminate baseload power plants unless electricity can be stored, which raises a large number of additional issues.
  2. The next picture of the Duck Curve implies what happens when renewables supply an increasing amount of electricity. All of the above problems are exacerbated, and it eventually becomes clear that utilities that own baseload power plants may find it difficult to survive without government intervention.

The Duck tells us a great deal about renewables, and is an excellent reference whenever renewables are discussed.
Power for USA

Donn’s article was published almost 4 years ago. And it seems that the duck problem has only grown worse, as Robert Bradley reports below.

“California’s Duck Curve Hits Record Lows”
Master Resource
Robert Bradley Jr
23 May 2023

“The forced energy transformation crowd continues to be in denial about how badly the California grid has been compromised by wind and solar, how expensive the battery solution is, and the prospect of Big Brother in the home (setting temperatures and restricting power use at will). As Ludwig von Mises observed, the failure of government intervention leads to more and more intervention, posing a choice between free markets and Leviathan.”

Social media is where the industry experts and talented professionals are effectively challenging the “magical thinking” behind climate alarmism/forced energy transformation, given the blackout of the mainstream media. As yet another example, Mike Hassaballa, energy engineer and consultant, reported on LinkedIn: “California’s Duck Curve Hits Record Lows.” His comment and graphics follow.


The famous “Duck Curve” that symbolizes the challenges of integrating renewable energy into the grid has reached an all-time low.

The Duck Curve, initially coined by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), illustrates the daily electricity demand and supply patterns in California. Its distinctive shape resembles a duck with its head and neck representing the daily net load, i.e., the difference between electricity demand and generation.

But why is this curve so important? The Duck Curve showcases the impact of renewable energy sources, particularly solar power, on the grid. As solar panels proliferate across California, the curve’s belly – symbolizing midday surplus energy – has been steadily growing. This phenomenon poses a challenge as it can result in excess electricity during the day, followed by a rapid ramp-up in demand as the sun sets. Managing this imbalance is crucial for a stable and reliable energy system.

This highlights the pressing need for energy storage solutions, demand response programs, and further integration of renewable energy into the grid. By effectively managing the duck curve, we can accelerate our transition to a more sustainable and resilient energy future.


More than 200 comments followed, most from the pro-renewables crowd arguing, in effect, “okay, this presents a challenge that the next phase of energy transformation, such as batteries and demand-reduction, must address.”

The critics of forced grid solar had comments ranging from “That is one ugly duckling,” which elicited the response: “It’s bound to be, it’s based on ‘quack’ climate science.” Then came the more serious. Dan Fowler commented in part:

The takeaway is that no new solar projects should be permitted (or are needed) without an equal amount of storage being made available.

And another:

No amount of batteries will address this problem at a fiscally sensible level. Pursuing further penetration of solar and wind, along with batteries will push California’s electricity rates ever higher to the point of impoverishing the population and driving any sensible business away.

Scott Tinker made the obvious point of more-of-the-same-is-worse:

… the logic of integrated more of the thing that is causing the duck into the system is somewhat lost on people who understand and have to manage these things. Perhaps additional dispatchable sources like natural gas and nuclear to create reliable electricity would be useful. And also have the benefit of bringing California’s highest in the nation [lower-48] electricity prices down for the consumer. Or, you could continue to follow Europe…

The obvious solution is to stop the wounding and treat the wound. No more wind and solar. And retire existing capacity to allow market signals to bring in combined cycle power plants fueled by either natural gas or fuel oil. Coal-by-wire should also be encouraged. The electricity rate debacle can be solved and Big Brother kept out of the home.

The forced energy transformation crowd continues to be in denial about how badly the California grid has been compromised by wind and solar, how expensive the battery solution is, and the prospect of Big Brother in the home (setting temperatures and restricting power use at will). As Ludwig von Mises observed, the failure of government intervention leads to more and more intervention, posing a choice between free markets and Leviathan.
Master Resource

Tomlinson on Texas Electricity: Houston Chronicle Editorialist in the Wrong Paradigm

From Master Resource

By Robert Bradley Jr.

When it comes to energy, Chris Tomlinson is about as anti-consumer and anti-taxpayer as one can get. And he is about as pro-industrial wind and pro-grid solar as possible.

The business editorialist does not see Texas’s $65 billion investment in parasitic, dilute, intermittent energies as the villain in destabilizing a once reliable, secure electric grid. He wants 1) more wind and solar; 2) enormous grid batteries, as if they were off-the-shelf and cheap; and 3) Big Brother demand-management in the home and business.

Chris Tomlinson is a committed climate alarmist without a care to doubt himself. He is unable to be neutral in his business columns: to present the best arguments on each side and let you, the reader, decide. No, he has decided for you in his Church of Climate.

And don’t forget his boner prediction made just before Storm Uri: :“Fossil fuel-supporting Chicken Littles have done their best to spread fear of renewable energy, warning that relying on wind, solar and storage would lead to blackouts and economic devastation.” Yes, it happened just as predicted.


Tomlinson’s latest, “Texas to spend billions to boost its dependency on fossil fuels,” is rebutted below.

The top regulators of the Texas electrical grid confirmed last week that they will put short-term profits for the state’s largest Republican donors over the future of life on Earth by misleading the public about the clean energy transition.

Comment: Tomlinson immediately smears the opposition for a conflict of interest and bad politics. But Tomlinson enjoys the millionaire lifestyle because … his spouse is a renewable multi-millionaire! Chris, why not deal with the substantive arguments as a serious business editorialist?

Public Utility Commission Chair Peter Lake proved himself to be a politician’s tool by declaring that reliance on clean energy threatens Texans. In one breath, he swears to the Legislature that he is agnostic about the technology used to generate electricity and in the next misleads Texans about grid reliability.

Comment: “Politician’s tool” is what you get when you politicize any industry–and a reason to promote government-neutral free energy markets. Second, one can be “technologically neutral” and not support wind and solar on economic grounds, because both those industries would largely collapse without special government favor that penalizes ratepayers, current taxpayers, and future taxpayers. Duplicating and weakening the grid is the fault of government wind and solar.

At last week’s press conference, Gov. Greg Abbott’s appointee said he wants to burn more coal and natural gas and ignore climate concerns. While the rest of the world is successfully transitioning to primarily renewable energy, Lake made Texas’ success sound like a failure.

Comment: No, Peter Lake wants to employ the best energies to prevent a debacle and stop the recurring “conservation alerts” given to Texas from wind and solar. In case Tomlinson hasn’t noticed, the world is in a tripartite global fossil fuel boom: oil, natural gas, and coal. And despite government mandates and subsidies to duplicate the electricity grid (and, now, the transportation network).

Texas is the Poster Child of wind and solar run wild–and the State paid a very high price for replacing the reliables with the unreliables, a story told told elsewhere at MasterResource.

“For the first time, the peak demand for electricity this summer will exceed the amount that we can generate from on-demand, dispatchable power, so we will be relying on renewables to keep the lights on,” he said ominously. “On the hottest days of summer, there is no longer enough on-demand, dispatch-able power generation to meet demand in the ERCOT system.”

Comment: And imagine if just some of the $65 billion wastage had gone to reliable capacity. Wounding the supply side with dilute, intermittent, weather-fickle supply is a political fool’s errand.

What are the odds of a blackout due to the wind not generating enough electricity at night? Less than 1 percent, ERCOT CEO Pablo Vargas explained, about the same odds of a blackout from the failure of natural gas and coal power plants, such as the one that killed hundreds of Texans in 2021.

Comment: Studies, estimates … This is a sign of a politicized, centralized market, not a consumer-driven free market. Let the market decide and be done with duelling studies and editorialist opinions.

“The grid is as reliable as it has ever been,” Vargas said, trying to inject some reality into Lake’s fearmongering. “We expect the grid to be reliable this summer.”

Comment: End the wind and solar penetration and we will believe you. But natural gas is coming to the rescue.

The biggest donors to Texas’ Republican party own or work for fossil fuel businesses. Despite data and a half-dozen engineering reports showing the natural gas network triggered the 2021 blackouts, political appointees like Lake have tried to demonize wind energy.

Comment: If you want big money and big corporations out of energy politics, remove government from energy. Any government rearrangement of profit opportunities will attract political activity from the regulated.

One example of his ignorance is that Lake keeps calling them “windmills,” which no energy professional would ever do. The devices that turn wind into electricity do not mill grain; they spin turbines large enough to electrify dozens of homes.

Comment: Small potatoes, Chris. And Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary supports his use of the term: “windmill”: “a wind-driven … electric generator.” This nitpick could have freed the space for a more substantive treatment of the central issue: how to deal with a wounded grid.

Lake is not alone in his desire to keep warming the planet with carbon dioxide; he is only a cog in a Republican machine seeking to raise natural gas demand.

Comment: Vague and unpersuasive, Chris. A qualitative change toward warming begs the question of specifics. Global lukewarming and CO2 fertilization negate the alarmist narrative. IPCC scare-model scenarios need a big haircut. And show me your time series data on weather extremes to see about the trends.

If successful, Republicans will ensure Texas consumers will over-invest in a fading technology that will weigh on their electricity bills, contribute to a hotter planet, trigger more drastic climate action later and massively under-invest in the clean technology that will dominate the next century.

Comment: Natural gas combined cycle is “fading technology”? It is the technology to beat!

The fossil fuel industry’s mojo remains powerful at the Legislature, if not totally unchecked.

Comment: Politics begets politics. The government-enabled takeover of the Texas grid by wind and solar started this. Ken Lay, George W. and Rick Perry.

A plan to spend $18 billion on 10 natural gas power plants that we should never need is foundering. Insiders say Senate Bill 6 will die in the House after almost every industry group opposed it, though resuscitation is possible before May 20. Another plot to give for-profit corporations $10 billion in interest-free loans to build more natural gas power plants is alive and well. Senate Bill 2627, which a House committee will consider today, would also provide generators with a completion bonus for putting new megawatts on the grid.

Comment: Texas has a wounded grid thanks to government policy. Now what? Don’t like this recipe for reliability? Then support the obvious policy: ending the wind/solar takeover of the grid. No new capacity, retire existing capacity. Improve margins for the reliables via a free and fair market.

Last year, fossil fuel generators told lawmakers they wanted more money, and they’ll likely get it. But bigger issues around the wholesale electricity market remain undecided.

Comment: That’s right. Screw thermal generation with government here, expect to pay for reliable service there.

Lake and Vargas claimed their press conference was to keep Texas consumers informed, but it appeared designed to save their favored market plan. Senators and House members both hate Lake’s cockamamie Performance Credit Mechanism, and the current version of Senate Bill 2012 would kneecap it….

Lake and Vargas are right about one thing. The hours between when the sun sets and the night winds begin will be the tightest this summer. But other grids with the same problem have found better solutions that Texas’ leaders intend to ignore: managing demand and storing energy. New technology is the answer, not more crony capitalism.

CommentCrony Capitalism? Wind and solar got there first and in spades. And two decades ago, right up until today. New Technology? Wind and solar are old failed technologies with proof-of-concepts in the 1880s, another story.


Chris Tomlinson, named 2021 columnist of the year by the Texas Managing Editors, writes commentary about money, politics and life in Texas. Sign up for his “Tomlinson’s Take” newsletter….

Comment: The establishment newspapers and their associations reward each other for their shared narratives. The Houston Chronicle (Hearst) refuses to answer the simple question: Have environmental groups donated funds, directly or indirectly, for “environmental education” or “environmental reporting” (climate alarmism/forced energy transformation)? Color me suspicious….