Coordination Critical to Meeting West's Future Electricity Needs
Western governors and a diverse group of panelists meeting here today focused on what the West's future electricity portfolio should look like, what it will take to get there and how long it will take.
The Western Governors' Association wrapped up its winter meeting with plenary sessions focused on creating a path for new transmission and the West's overall energy future.
"The recession has slowed the growth in demand for electricity, but we cannot squander this opportunity to address future needs," said Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), WGA's Vice Chairman. "It is clear that coordination among states, the federal government, all segments of the industry and non-governmental organizations is essential for the region to meet its clean energy needs."
The governors have long maintained that the West can expand energy and transmission development while protecting lands, wildlife and natural resources. Gov. Brian Schweitzer (Mont.), WGA's Chairman, said it is imperative that federal agencies work with states to expedite construction of new transmission and make sure that renewable resources are being appropriately developed on federal lands.
"Western governors recognize that we do not have time to waste, and we are prepared to move ahead with needed transmission development," Schweitzer said. "We look forward to partnering with the federal government in making it happen."
Plenary sessions over the two-day meeting highlighted some of the most difficult issues that must be addressed in developing an energy portfolio that is clean, diverse, reliable and reasonably priced. They include:
- impacts of drought and climate change on electricity generation and transmission systems
- changes in demand for electricity due to increased numbers of plug-in electric vehicles; and
- barriers to building new transmission, especially high voltage, long-distance transmission that will open up many of the geographically isolated renewable energy areas.
Governors attending this year's meeting were Brian Schweitzer (Mont.), WGA Chairman; C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), Vice Chairman; Felix Camacho (Guam); Jim Gibbons (Nev.); Bill Richardson (N.M.); Ted Kulongoski (Ore.); Gary Herbert (Utah); and Dave Freudenthal (Wyo.).