Imagine you are driving a truck loaded with hundreds of millions of dollars in cash. You are moving at a fast speed when you see a sign that says “End of Road.” You continue past the sign and see another billboard with a skull and crossbones that says “Cliff Ahead, Stop Immediately.” You ignore the sign and instead press the accelerator. The next thing you know, you are in free fall.
The current plan for the Grayson gas plant is the health and financial equivalent of driving a truck filled with money off a cliff.
The scientific consensus is that we need to take immediate and aggressive action to avoid a climate catastrophe. Recent record-breaking temperatures and natural disasters are just a prelude to the what we will face if we don’t take action now. Massive species loss, collapsing food systems, and waves of climate migration may be just around the corner. We are simply out of time for half measures.
Given what we know today, building a new gas plant that will be with us for decades is reckless if not borderline criminal.
And it is not just about the climate. Emissions from gas plants are known to increase the risk of asthma, heart disease, cancer and perhaps most frighteningly, dementia in the elderly and learning disabilities in children. Los Angeles already has some of the worst air quality in the nation. We should be doing everything we can to clean it up, not adding to the problem.
If this were not enough, the Grayson plan is a fiscal time bomb. Prices for clean energy are falling so fast that, according to a study published by the Rocky Mountain Institute, it will be cheaper within the next couple of decades to buy new clean energy systems than to keep running existing gas plants. And even if the transition takes a bit longer, California has set a goal for 100% zero carbon energy by 2045. In either case, the current proposal would have residents paying for the Grayson plant long after it has been forced to shut down.
A few years ago we might have looked at all this and concluded there were no good alternatives. But that is no longer the case. Battery storage costs continue to come down exponentially, as have the costs of solar and other alternative energies. With the right phased-in approach, we can meet our needs without gas.
Not surprisingly, utilities up and down the state have taken note and have been shelving gas projects. In the last year, we have seen fully designed projects canceled in Oxnard, Los Angeles and elsewhere. If we don’t change course, Glendale will likely have the dubious legacy of being the last place in California to invest in a gas plant.
I’m a Glendale resident, business owner and concerned father of two young children. My business focuses on sustainable investing and wealth management. The fossil fuel sector has consistently been the worst place to invest over the past decade. Why? One key reason is that the markets are starting to realize that these companies will be obsolete in the coming decades as businesses, governments and concerned citizens weigh the external costs and switch to cheaper and cleaner alternatives.
We need to come together as a community and hit the brakes on the Grayson power plant before we collectively drive off a cliff.