The Washington Post reports that California is wonderfully energy-efficient and that its model for reducing energy consumption, despite a growing population, should be mimicked by the rest of the country. Much ado is made about the fact that California uses less energy than any other state (although “energy” seems to be defined exclusively as “electricity” and excludes gasoline). Only brief mention is given to the energy crisis of 2000 and 2001, where the state instituted rolling blackouts for lack of electricity.
Moreover, even less attention is given to the fact that California’s high prices have driven manufacturing jobs out of state. States that tend to use a lot of energy (Wyoming, Kentucky, and Alabama) are also big manufacturing and agricultural states. Those products are used by the entire country; their production (and the corresponding energy use) is not indicative of only local energy policies.
The final big factor in energy use is climate. California is extremely mild, with very little need for either heat or air conditioning. Cali is not DC (which was maligned in the article for its high energy use), where the winters are freezing cold and the summers feature 95-degree temperatures and 90% humidity. Without controlling for those variables, it is ridiculous to attribute California’s low energy use solely to regulation and high prices.
Of course, a lot of California’s energy regulations came after someone wanted to build a nuclear power plant. (Elephant snort.)