March 21, 2023
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Ojai company leads way to reliable, clean energy


Jan Dietrick

By Jan Dietrick

The Feb. 10 article in the Pacific Coast Business Times, “Power to the people: SimpliPhi to double production at Ojai battery storage plant,” about how the Ojai company is positioning itself for growth, can be viewed through the lens of current trends in energy policy.

Policy-makers in California and Washington, D.C., should throw open the doors to SimpliPhi’s smart energy storage as this company prepares to produce equipment that will smooth out the intermittence in the Western Energy Imbalance Market.

Our business is inspired by this potential for alignment with a new regional clean-energy source. We do not want our energy coming from obsolete fuels and equipment. We have a problem with the gas-fired power plants proposed by NRG and Calpine in Ventura County. SimpliPhi’s achievements highlight how the NRG and Calpine proposals do not jibe with our potential for transition to job-delivering 100 percent clean energy.

Advertisements for electric vehicles and LEDs are raising awareness. Industrial renewable-energy generation has soared to $286 billion globally. That is compared with coal- and gas-fueled power plants down to $130 billion. There are more than twice as many U.S. jobs in solar and wind as there are in coal and gas.

A Feb. 5 Los Angeles Times article, “Californians are paying billions for power they don’t need,” explains the declining need for energy —  California uses 2.6 percent less from the power grid today than it did in 2008. Modern gas-fired plants in Colusa, Sutter and other counties have shut down, yet ratepayers will be paying for those unneeded plants for decades to come. Californians pay $6.8 billion more for power today than they did in 2008. This will amount to many billions over the next two decades in far higher rates than other states.

The Times reported that California will expand to 21 percent surplus-energy-generation capacity in the next few years, yet state agencies keep approving more gas-fired power plants. Loretta Lynch, a former president of the California Public Utilities Commission, who has opposed new gas-fired power plants, was quoted by the Times saying: “We’re awash in power at a premium price.”

Comments about the proposed NRG plant are being taken at

There is leakage throughout natural-gas production that damages the climate as much as coal does. However, when there is too much electricity in the grid, the utilities pay for the solar — not the gas — to be turned off.

SimpliPhi can provide cost-effective energy storage. That is a far better option than new gas-fired power plants and turning off solar power. Ventura County ratepayers may be stuck for 30 years paying high rates for unnecessary climate pollution.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s sister, Kathleen Brown, sits on the board of Sempra Energy. Sempra does not know what to do with all of the surplus natural gas it used to store at Aliso Canyon, the site of what has been called the largest gas leak in U.S. history. Could this be why state agencies keep approving unneeded gas-fired power plants?

Carbon-pricing policy is another trend that is sure to put SimpliPhi closer to big expansion. At a recent 2030 scoping workshop, the California Air Resources Board staff announced a recommendation to stop the “trading” part of its cap-and-trade program and directly tax emissions from all sectors.

Nationally, a group of conservative economists, calling themselves the Climate Leadership Council, met last week with President Trump’s staff to discuss the need for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. The group includes former Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, among other prominent Republicans.

The group proposes a $40 tax on every metric ton of carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels. To help counter higher energy bills, the projected annual revenue of $200 billion to $300 billion would be distributed tax-free to households in quarterly installments through the Social Security Administration. A family of four could receive a projected annual payout of $2,000. The tax would increase by 2 percent per year above inflation.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, six more Republicans joined the House Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus since November. Conservatives are attracted to an insurance policy that is also an economic stimulus, just in case humans are causing climate change.

• Jan Dietrick of Ventura is president of Rincon-Vitova Insectaries in Ventura.