California Relies on Fossil Fuels Amid Ongoing Heat Wave

By: Riley Brown | Published: Nov 09, 2023

As a record heat wave scorches California, the state finds itself leaning heavily on fossil fuel-fired power plants. This move is key to ensuring residents and businesses continue to have access to reliable electricity.

Despite popular belief, more than 40% of California’s total power grid supply comes from natural gas. Surprising, right?

The Sun Goes Down, The Lights Stay On

Though California is a hotspot for solar energy, during the morning hours and at night, when solar energy infrastructure can’t keep up, fossil fuel plants fill in.


Source: Getty Images

When the electricity demand is at its peak around 7 p.m., natural gas generates a whopping 45% of the state’s power.

The Cost of Climate Goals – The Californian Paradox

Kevin Slagle from the Western States Petroleum Association warns us, “California’s climate goals come with a high cost.” The state needs three times its current electricity production and 30 times more electric vehicles to meet its climate goals.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

As we grapple with these challenges, Slagle reminds us that, for now, natural gas is critical for our power grid.

Governor’s Green Stand Against Fossil Fuels

However, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is a fierce advocate for moving away from traditional power sources, blaming them for climate change. He has continually urged the state to take steps to protect its citizens from the increasing heat waves.


Source: Getty Images

Last November, Newsom launched a bold plan aiming for carbon neutrality. The plan involves cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 85%, oil usage by 94%, and amplifying solar and wind capacity. It’s an ambitious roadmap, indeed!

Can the Golden State Go Green?

In the struggle to go green, the most recent data indicates that last year, wind and solar managed to generate only about 25% of total electricity in California. On the other hand, natural gas accounted for more than half of in-state electricity generation.


Source: Getty Images

While the journey to a greener California seems challenging, it’s clear that the state is ready to face it head-on.