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California's 'green energy' fail could lead to more anxiety for Texans

Wally Skalij
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California's 'green energy' fail could lead to more anxiety for Texans

The idea of Texas becoming a battleground state could be exacerbated after rolling blackouts led fed-up Californians to question just how much more of the Golden State they can take

"I don't even know yet if we're going to make it through this one," — a California resident.

On Oct. 9, Northern California residents were left in the dark for three days after Pacific Gas & Electric Co., one of three of California's electric providers, shut off power to 2 million residents in the nation's third-largest state with permission from the government.

The areas affected included 34 Northern California counties, including the Bay Area.

The decision by PG&E to usher in the blackouts was a pre-emptive measure to ensure the state's autumn wind doesn't spark déjà vu, but the decision left many Californians frustrated.

Businesses suffered, food and medicine spoiled, and livelihoods were disrupted entirely.

Traffic accidents increased, and grocery stores plunged into darkness operating by cash only.

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board described the state's misfortune as a "progressive paragon" who is "living like it's 1899" and ascribed the woes to a "perfect storm of bad policies."

One of those bad policies is PG&E's Clean Fuel Rebates for residential customers who drive electric cars. Each customer who drives one can apply for an $800 rebate thanks to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a state-run program.

According to PG&E's website, "The goal of the Standard is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by encouraging the adoption of cleaner transportation fuels, including electricity."

While California masquerades as the leader in green energy, it's the largest importer of electricity generated from coal, nuclear plants, and natural gas from places like Nevada, Arizona, Canada, and Mexico, according to the U.S. Energy and Information Administration.

According to the WSJ, "Credit Suisse has estimated that long-term contracts with renewable developers cost the utility $2.2 billion annually more than current market power rates."

All the while failing to upgrade 90-year-old electric poles and equipment leaves the state vulnerable to wildfire catastrophe.

Equally ridiculous, as Inc. Magazine highlighted, is the predicament electric car owners faced when they couldn't charge their cars during the blackouts.

Energy policies such as these that are much like New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal" are a preview of what we're in for should it be implemented nationally.

Currently, California has authorized 218 renewable energy policies that grant monetary incentives to businesses like PG&E and residents in the form of tax cuts, loans, grants, and rebates.

However, Californians who suffered major losses during the blackouts shouldn't expect any compensation from PG&E or California anytime soon.

What's concerning is that residents are calling the rolling blackouts their "new normal" after the last two wildfire seasons, the worst ever recorded in the state's history, engulfed millions of acres across the Golden State.

The deadly Camp Fire in 2018 resulted in 86 deaths, left thousands without power, and destroyed 14,000 homes translating to $11.4 billion worth of insurance claims.

PG&E employed the practice of shutting off electricity to residents to absolve themselves of future liabilities following its decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January.

The New York Times reported that PG&E's bankruptcy was due largely to the losses it suffered after its equipment sparked 17 of the 21 deadly fires in 2017 that killed 22.

Even before the 2017 fires, PG&E was $52 billion in debt with one prior bankruptcy.

The embattled electric company's fire liability is estimated to be $30 billion.

But PG&E's neglect means more bad news for Californians who will undoubtedly see an increase in their rates as the company recoups financial losses.

Second to Hawaii, California is already one of the most expensive states to call home.

PG&E and its customers aren't out of the woods just yet as the company is currently under investigation for its role in the 2018 California wildfires.

Unkept power lines, dry winds, and untrimmed trees have been a lethal combination for the Golden State for years but never like the last two years.

What's additionally frustrating for residents is that the state's October blackouts left many residents, schools and universities, hospitals, and businesses dependent on generators to maintain some sense of normalcy.

But the generators were not going to be the answer: There was too much demand and not enough supply for the estimated 2 million residents (800,000 utility accounts) in need of them.

As though the ramifications of blackouts weren't bad enough, those generators contribute to pollution the heavily regulated state has tried to reduce.

Portable generators are powered by diesel, gasoline, propane, and natural gas, which is a concern for environmental regulators as usage increases.

California tops a nationwide list of states with the poorest air quality, and those generators could make things worse.

Californians aren't happy about this, and they're starting to question just how much more of California they can take, which could be a bad sign for a place like Texas that enjoys low costs of living and minimal regulation.

What sane American would settle for astronomical insurance prices, gas prices, electric prices, and home prices if other options were on the table?

Gavin Newsom, the state's progressive governor, said it himself during a news conference where he slammed PG&E, who had neglected to upgrade power lines, electric poles, and equipment.

Newsom claimed it was PG&E's corporate "greed" and "mismanagement" that caused the deadly Camp Fire last year, not the company's divided attention on keeping up with green energy policies.

"We are seeing the scale and scope of something that no state in the 21st century should experience," he said.

Others predictably blamed climate change and wrote columns about how Californians should learn to live off the grid like someone residing in a developing nation.

So much for progress.

But what's additionally worrying is how much more likely fed-up Californians will be willing to uproot their lives and head to somewhere more livable — and bring their voting habits with them.

Demographics in Texas are changing undeniably, and some GOP leaders fear the conservative heartland may become a battleground state come 2020 because of an influx of residents from California and the growth of the Latino population.

While Californians won't outnumber Texans anytime soon, they are the largest source of domestic migration to Austin, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The recent analysis confirmed that Austin's net migration had increased more than any other U.S. city in the last 10 years.

Data tells us that 155 new people a day or 55,000 a year are moving to Austin, but not all of them are from California (6.4 percent). Many are from New York (3 percent), Florida (3.6 percent), and Colorado (2.1 percent).

Austinites told me there are too many from California moving into the area than Texans are comfortable with. And Californians are echoing a similar sentiment.

During a recent trip to Napa, one California couple told me they'd leave California for Austin if it meant not living around other Californians.

If progressive voters fail to reflect on the destructive policies that are uprooting people from the Golden State from their homes, more American cities will continue to slip into the same patterns: High costs of living, high taxes, and costly crippling government regulation.

Austin has attracted a significant amount of talent as Big Tech moves into the city whose current population sits around 2 million. In 2000, Austin's population was 1.2 million.

We're already witnessing Austin experience some of the same issues as California.

After Austin city leaders decriminalized homelessness, complaints of feces, violent attacks, and needles everywhere raised public safety concerns.

The city is now receiving threats of a state intervention by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott if it doesn't reverse its homelessness ordinance.

Austin's Democratic mayor, Steve Adler, is flirting with the demise of another major U.S. city through the decriminalization of what used to be societal expectations.

Feces and used drug needles litter the streets of San Francisco because city leaders have not only decriminalized drug use but promoted it.

Across the nation, progressive policies have decimated urban American cities that were once the pinnacle wealth, creativity, education, architecture and business.

Now, clean and safe sidewalks seem to be a luxury of the past in progressive strongholds.

While there are many factors to consider before moving to a new city, one common theme as noted in an analysis by NerdWallet, is lowering their cost of living.

The most common out-of-state origin for newcomers to Dallas-Fort Worth area was Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Anaheim, California, "followed by New York City and Chicago."

The Washington Examiner's Hugo Gurdon cited another alarming statistic that should worry Texans.

From the years of 2012 to 2016, "a net of 521,052 Californians left the state." Texas was among the most popular destinations "with a net of 114,413 Californians moving 1,300 miles" to the Lone Star State.

If Texas residents don't raise concerns with their local representatives and state senators and don't turn out to vote, the perfect storm of bad progressive policies could wind up at our doors, too.

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