Enviros make case for Western grid connection (EE News Energywire)

Published: March 29, 2017

By Debra Kahn, Energywire

California environmental and renewable energy groups are nudging state lawmakers to move forward on forming a Western electricity grid.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and eight other parties sent a letter yesterday to California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and the leaders of the state Legislature, urging them to make the state’s grid operator a regional organization.

Officials in six Western states — California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming — have been exploring the possibility of creating a regional transmission organization (RTO) similar to the multistate organizations that already blanket most of the rest of the country. The proposal has the potential to transform the Western grid, reducing its reliance on coal, boosting the development of wind power across the Rockies and producing billions of dollars in savings for ratepayers, advocates say.

Trump’s signing of an executive order yesterday to review the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan only strengthens the case for Western cooperation, the co-director of NRDC’s energy program, Ralph Cavanagh, said in a call with reporters.

“The fastest and cheapest way to enhance renewable energy expansion across the West is full Western grid integration,” he said. “It’s something we can do regardless of federal policy.”

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