California’s investments, which are in the billions, in new power plants, solar and wind farms, have made the state’s electricity supply network robust. California was once the laughing stock in the nation when it came to electricity supply, but the state now has far more capacity than it did during the energy crisis of 2001. The monthly bills for electricity in California are below the U.S. average, but the amount Californians pay for each kilowatt hour of electricity is among the highest in the nation. Some critics believe that California has too much generation capacity that is an overreaction to the crisis back in 2001. Robert McCullough of McCullough Research, an energy consulting firm in Portland, states:
There’s nothing particularly wrong with having too much capacity, except the ratepayer has to pay for it. Generally, ratepayers are willing to pay for a very reliable system.
Since the crisis in 2001, when rogue companies like Enron exploited loopholes in California’s newly deregulated energy market, the state has gotten stricter. Utilities are now required to line up at least 15 percent more power than they expect to use as a precaution against blackouts. The Independent System Operator, which runs the grid, has safeguards against market manipulation to avoid another Enron situation. According to the California Energy Commission, Californian’s have gotten more conservative with their electricity use, because even though the population has grown 14 percent from 2000-2004, its electricity consumption has only increased by only 7.5 percent during the same period. It’s reassuring to know that Californians have learned from the mistakes of the past and have invested in the future, while changing their habits to conserve more energy.