Opinion: We need to be more independent in our energy sources, not less

People Post is a space for opinion pieces, letters to the editor and guest submissions from members of the Long Beach community. The following is an op-ed submitted by Ron Miller, Executive Secretary, Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Long Beach Post.

The blackouts Long Beach residents experienced last month were a stark reminder of how strained our energy infrastructure is in California. Together, we should be working toward more reliable, sustainable and locally produced energy to fulfill the city and state’s needs.

The Building Trades have a unique, first-hand role in energy production in California; our members build the solar and wind farms in the high deserts and work the oil fields of Kern County and everywhere in between, including Long Beach’s production at the THUMS Islands and Tidelands.

Even with all this production, both renewable and traditional, California is still a major importer of energy. One third of our power comes from out of state. This makes us ever dependent on foreign jurisdictions to fulfill our energy needs.

After one night without air conditioning in August, most people in Long Beach understand that we need to be more independent in our energy resources, not less as Councilmember Pearce argues in her Aug. 27 People Post article. By suggesting that Long Beach cease local energy production, she is doing nothing to decrease Long Beach or California’s energy needs. She is merely increasing our reliance on foreign energy sources.

At Tidelands and THUMS, our members proudly work to produce domestic energy under the strictest labor and environmental laws in the world, and, like all of the oil produced in California, the energy produced in Long Beach is used exclusively in-state to fill our state’s existing needs. If this production is curtailed by an anti-oil agenda, it will only result in more oil being imported on supertankers to fill California’s needs. This oil will come from places like Saudi Arabia that do not share our strict environmental or labor laws, nor our values on human and workers’ rights.

To those who say that renewables like solar and wind will keep us from having to import any energy, I ask you to please look at reality. In order to use more solar and wind, we need more battery facilities to store that energy. The Building Trades are building battery storage right now at the AES Alamitos plant on Studebaker Road. That is one plant and will hold 400 megawatt hours. The state has set a storage goal of many times that by 2024. We are just not there yet.

2020 has been a difficult year for Long Beach and the state of California. Here at the Building Trades, we want to be part of rebuilding our communities, literally and figuratively. To do this, we all need to be working together. And to do this, we need to have reliable local energy production. Increasing dependence on foreign jurisdictions is adverse to our recovery.

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