County proposal explores San Diego's clean energy future
Speaker 1: (00:00)
A recent proposal unanimously passed by the San Diego board of supervisors looks to examine the feasibility of a number of alternative energy sources in San Diego county. The vote is part of the counties regional decarbonisation framework that helps to ultimately eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and greatly reduce pollution. While officials have high hopes for the future of cleaner energy in the region, much needs to be done before San Diego can shake its dependency on fossil fuels. Joining me with more as Rob Nicole Leschi and energy reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Rob, welcome back to the program.
Speaker 2: (00:38)
It's always a pleasure talking to you and Jane,
Speaker 1: (00:40)
Can you tell us some more about these different kinds of alternative energy that are being considered with this proposal?
Speaker 2: (00:47)
There are basically three that they're looking at. One of them is wave energy and that's something that not a whole lot of people are familiar with. Basically wave energy. If something is a, a process in which, uh, scientists and people in technology are trying to find ways to harness the power of tides that you have in an ocean, and be able to use that and harness that as a source of energy problem with the wave energy is that it's basically still very much in its infancy. And there's been some difficulty trying to get that part. The, the thing that the county is looking at in addition to solar and wind is also trying to develop some offshore wind projects. And that's mostly been seen in the east coast and in Europe hasn't really come out to the west coast yet. And then the third thing is a geothermal geothermal makes up about 6% of California's in-state electricity mostly is found in Northern California, outside about 60, 70 miles outside of San Francisco ethic geysers. So it hasn't really come down to Southern California, but those are some of the three things that the county board of supervisors has taken a look at.
Speaker 1: (01:58)
And this proposal passed unanimously. Are we seeing a lot of bipartisan support for alternative energy
Speaker 2: (02:04)
Only on the county level? Yes, there, there is some and Joel Anderson, who's a Republican joined with a nation based and Fletcher the chair of the county board of supervisors to introduce this. I talked to supervisor Anderson about this. He said, and he emphasized that they don't know for sure if wave energy geothermal Southern California offshore wind will be that viable, but he says, it's worth asking the questions about, and there are some questions about each of those, about the feasibility of each of those three sources,
Speaker 1: (02:37)
Supervisor Joel Anderson, as you just mentioned, made it, uh, made a point to say that options beyond wind and solar, uh, should be explored. Are these other options being used in other parts of the country to any success?
Speaker 2: (02:51)
Offshore, wind, as I mentioned was basically been something that you've seen in Europe, European countries have been able to develop that more quickly. There's been a lot of onshore, uh, wind development throughout the United States. The problem with offshore wind specifically to California has been that, and I've written about this in the past is that the military in California, they've got real concerns and they've put blocked up essentially blocked off a whole portion, all of Southern California and a portion of central California, because they are afraid that if you put these really, really large wind turbines up, that it won't interfere with military operations. So we use mostly seen discussion about offshore wind. There have not been any offshore wind, uh, facilities built in California yet, but most of that discussion has been in Northern California. But since I wrote this story last week, I saw something where there has been some discussion in Ventura county, which is certainly part of Southern California about putting something with an on the state waters of, uh, off, off shore Ventura county. So we'll see what happens down the road, but for the most part, it looks like offshore, wind is mostly going to be something that you'd see in Northern California.
Speaker 1: (04:08)
And what are some of the major hurdles in the way of San Diego's transition to cleaner energy?
Speaker 2: (04:13)
It's the biggest hurdle is the fact that we have a lot of solar. We have a decent amount of wind in Southern California, so to speak, but the problem with solar and wind is that they're not dispatchable. And that means, uh, by energy standards that they cannot be relied upon 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The problem with solar is that even though it's very abundant during the daylight hours, once the sun goes down, you're not able to get to generating more solar problem with when sort of parallel is that you get a lot of wind when the wind's blowing and when it's not you, don't now one of the possible solutions that the state governments and local governments have been looking at is energy storage like battery storage. Well, one of the problems with battery storage would be, and that's something that you could dispatch during the night, during the times when the, uh, electric grid is under the most stress. But one of the problems with battery storage right now is that it's hard to find something that can dispatch electricity more than four hours. So obviously we've got more than four hours of nighttime that we have to be able to tide over. So those are some of the big hurdles that renewable energy faces right now
Speaker 1: (05:24)
At one of the major obstacles to and completing these projects is community opposition to building them in the first place. How are residents feeling about the prospects of these new energy sources being built in their backyard?
Speaker 2: (05:39)
That's a good question because, um, I think we stop people on the street, especially in California. If you asked them about clean energy, the almost unanimously people say yes, we want to have more clean energy and have less polluting sources. The big question becomes, do you, where do you, what happens if that FFL proposed new renewable energy facility is in your own backyard? And that there's an example of that is in, uh, in the town of Macumba. Um, the county board of supervisors, uh, approved, um, a project that would a big solar project, um, and also would have a little bit of battery storage right outside, literally right next to the city limits of the town of Macumba. And most of the residents there came out strongly against it, and there's a lawsuit trying to stop it. Their argument be that the facility would be so large that it would basically subsume the entire small town. It's a combo. So we'll see what happens as far as that lawsuit goes. But as for right now, that project has been approved and should be, uh, ground should be broken on that later at the end, either at the end of this year, beginning of next
Speaker 1: (06:52)
Speaking with San Diego union Tribune, energy reporter, Rob Nikolsky, Rob, thanks so much for
Speaker 2: (06:58)
Joining us. It's always a pleasure.
Speaker 3: (07:01)
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted last week to direct staff to examine the feasibility of a number of alternative energy sources in San Diego County.
In addition to wind and solar powered energy sources, the county will also look at wave, offshore wind and geothermal powered projects.
The vote is part of the county’s Regional Decarbonization Framework that hopes to ultimately eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and greatly reduce pollution.
While officials have high hopes for the future of cleaner energy in the region, much needs to be done before San Diego can shake it’s dependency on fossil fuels.