California's emphasis on renewable energy is “a case study in how not to approach our electricity grid and how not to approach the energy needs of this country,” Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Fox Business Network's “Varney & Co.” on Tuesday.
“Part of what’s happening in California is that there’s been a rush to renewable power, generation power and they focus their investments there rather than on things like transmission lines and distribution lines, which in some cases may have caused some of these fires,” Brouillette told host Stuart Varney.
California firefighters, with the help of reinforcements from other states, are trying to gain ground on a number of wildfires that so far have killed at least seven people and damaged more than 1,200 buildings and homes.
“California’s got a long history of getting it wrong on energy policy and I think we’re seeing just the latest example of that,” Brouillette added.
When Varney asked whether there is "any sign that they would reverse their policy of insisting on the use of renewables?” Brouillette responded: “They need to do so very quickly.”
The secretary added that California “moved away from what’s known as ‘baseload power’ much too quickly and much too rapidly and their entire strategy was to go to 100% renewables, wind and solar primarily, and then when needed, import power from neighboring states.
“It’s the rough equivalent of saying, ‘I’m not going to purchase a car because I’m environmentally sensitive, I’m just going to borrow my friend’s car whenever I need one,’" he added. “That’s fine until both of you need it at the same time and that’s what happened here. So it’s hot not only in California, it’s hot in Arizona and Nevada. It’s hot in other parts of the west and there’s no power to send to California so we’re starting to see these brownouts.”
In addition to the wildfires, Northern Californians have been recently been faced with several other threats, including unhealthy smoky air, extreme heat, and power outages amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In an effort to prevent future blackouts, California may allow four gas plants to continue operating after the state was poised to close them, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The four plants, which use ocean water for cooling purposes, were scheduled to be replaced by green energy sources as the state approaches its 2030 deadline for 60% of its energy to come from green sources.
However, the Los Angeles Times reported that the plants may receive extensions of up to three years to continue their operations after California saw rolling blackouts on Aug. 14 and 15 following a heatwave that caused failures within its electrical system
“It’s very important that we pay attention to this example in California and as we look down the road, perhaps anticipate what some of the next steps may be,” Brouillette said.
Two-thirds of California's energy supply last year came from renewable sources, while one-third came from gas, the Times reported.
FOX Business' Audrey Conklin, Fox News’ Greg Norman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.