By Maria Gallucci, SolveClimate News
Eleven Western states will spend $200 billion in the next two decades to upgrade their electricity systems. That pot of money could spur major economic growth if invested in deployment of renewable energy and digital smart grid technologies, utility experts and advocates of clean power say.
Or, if it is spent on additional analog infrastructure and fossil fuels, it could prevent job creation and boost global-warming emissions.
A new report from the Western Grid Group, an alliance of 25 regulatory experts, environmental groups and renewable energy leaders, presents these two, vastly different choices as the region’s electric sector plans its first steps for using the money.
The 180-page study is the first in a series of WGG reports to get regional grid planners, state legislatures and utility regulatory commissions to consider policies that increase efficiency, add more renewable resources and lure clean energy businesses and manufacturers out West.
“The choices that we make over the next 20 years are going to be key,” Carl Linvill, co-author of the report, told reporters during a Wednesday web conference. “They’re going to lay the foundation for the Western electricity system out to 2050 and beyond. Now is the time to consider what kind of grid the West wants.”
Linvill heads the Aspen Environmental Group and previously served in Nevada on the Public Utilities Commission and as energy adviser to former Gov. Kenny Guinn.