County proposal explores the future of San Diego’s clean energy
Speaker 1: (00:00)
A recent proposal unanimously passed by the San Diego Supervisory Board seeks to examine the feasibility of a number of alternative energy sources in San Diego County. The vote is part of the regional county decarbonization framework that ultimately helps eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and significantly reduce pollution. While authorities have high hopes for the future of cleaner energy in the region, much remains to be done before San Diego can shake off its dependence on fossil fuels. I join me as Rob Nicole Leschi and energy reporter for the San Diego Tribune Union. Rob, welcome to the program.
Speaker 2: (00:38)
It’s always a pleasure to talk to you and Jane,
Speaker 1: (00:40)
Can you tell us more about these different types of alternative energies envisaged with this proposal?
Speaker 2: (00:47)
There are basically three that they are looking at. One of them is wave energy and it’s something not many people know about. Basically, wave energy. If anything is a, a process in which, uh, scientists and techies are trying to find ways to harness the power of the tides that you have in an ocean, and to be able to use it and exploit as a source of energy problem with wave energy is that it is still in its infancy. And there were some difficulties in trying to get this part. The, the thing the county is looking at besides solar and wind is also trying to develop offshore wind projects. And this has mostly been seen on the east coast and in Europe, it hasn’t really come out on the west coast yet. And then the third thing is that geothermal geothermal power is about 6% of the electricity in the state of California, mostly in northern California, about 60, 70 miles from the ethical geysers in San Francisco. So that hasn’t really happened in Southern California, but these are some of the three things the county watchdog has looked at.
Speaker 1: (01:58)
And this proposal was adopted unanimously. Are we seeing a lot of bipartisan support for alternative energies?
Speaker 2: (02:04)
Only at departmental level? Yes, there are and Joel Anderson, who is a Republican, joined a nation based and Fletcher, the chairman of the county watchdog in presenting that. I spoke to Supervisor Anderson about it. He said, and he stressed that they don’t know for sure whether geothermal wave energy from offshore wind in Southern California will be as viable, but he said, it’s worth asking about, and there are questions about each of these, about the feasibility of each of these three sources,
Speaker 1: (02:37)
Supervisor Joel Anderson, as you just mentioned, insisted that options beyond wind and solar, uh, should be explored. Are these other options being used successfully in other parts of the country?
Speaker 2: (02:51)
At sea, wind power, as I mentioned, was basically something that you saw in Europe, European countries were able to develop that faster. There has been a lot of onshore wind development across the United States. The problem with offshore wind specifically to California is that, and I’ve written about this in the past, is that the military in California, they have real concerns and they’ve basically blocked an entire part, all of them. southern California and part of central California, because they’re worried that if you put in those really, really big wind turbines, it won’t interfere with military operations. So we mainly use discussions about offshore wind. There haven’t been any offshore wind installations, uh, built in California yet, but most of these discussions have been in Northern California. But since writing this story last week, I’ve seen something where there has been some talk in Ventura County, which is certainly part of Southern California, about putting something with a on state waters, offshore, off Ventura County. So we’ll see what happens later, but for the most part it looks like offshore the wind will mostly be something you’d see in Northern California.
Speaker 1: (04:08)
And what are the main obstacles to San Diego’s transition to cleaner energy?
Speaker 2: (04:13)
The biggest obstacle is the fact that we have a lot of solar energy. We have a decent amount of wind in Southern California, so to speak, but the problem with solar and wind is that they are not distributable. And that means, uh, by energy standards, you can’t trust it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The problem with solar power is that even though it’s very plentiful during the hours. for clarity, once the sun goes down you are not able to generate solar power more problem when some kind of parallel is you have a lot of wind when the wind is blowing and when it is not. isn’t you, one of the possible solutions being considered by state and local governments is not energy storage like battery storage. Well, one of the issues with battery storage would be, and that’s something you could send out overnight, during times when, uh, the power grid is most stressed. But one of the issues with battery storage right now is that it’s hard to find something that can send electricity for more than four hours. So obviously we have more than four hours of night that we need to be able to overcome. So these are some of the big obstacles that renewables are currently facing
Speaker 1: (05:24)
One of the main obstacles to the realization of these projects is the opposition of the community to build them in the first place. What do residents think about the prospects of building these new sources of energy in their garden?
Speaker 2: (05:39)
That’s a good question because, uh, I think people are stopping people on the streets, especially in California. If you ask them about clean energy, almost unanimously people say yes, we want to have more clean energy and to have less polluting sources. The big question becomes, do you, where do you go, what if this new renewable energy facility offered by FFL is in your own backyard? And that there’s an example of it in, uh, Macumba town. Um, the county supervisory board, uh, approved, uh, a project that would be a big solar project, uh, and also have some battery storage right outside, literally right next to the boundary of the Macumba town. And most of the locals have strongly opposed it, and there is a lawsuit trying to stop it. Their argument is that the facility would be so large that it basically encompasses the entire small town. It’s a combo. We will therefore see what happens with regard to this trial. But for now, this project has been approved and should be, uh, the land should be cleared later at the end, either at the end of this year or at the start of the next.
Speaker 1: (06:52)
Speaking to the San Diego Tribune Union Energy Reporter Rob Nikolsky, Rob, thank you very much for
Speaker 2: (06:58)
Join us. It’s always a pleasure.
Speaker 3: (07:01)