CLEANTECH: Zones Supersized

By Published On: March 20, 2009

California has promising concentrating solar power and wind prospects, notes the Western Governors’ Association and the U.S. Department of Energy. The two entities are working together to identify areas ripe for clean electricity generation in the Western U.S. and parts of Canada and Mexico. Western governors are set to designate “Qualified Resource Areas” for renewable energy generation at their June meeting. But, individual states would maintain their authority over the construction of renewable energy facilities and transmission lines. Solar and wind are expected to be key sources of power generation in the West for the near term. The heads of state also recommend wind energy developments in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, Kansas, Nebraska, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and Alberta. Hydroelectric power in the Northwestern states could become 30 to 40 percent more efficient, according to the governors. Geothermal, which is a better baseload power source than wind and solar, could provide 10,000 MW to 15,000 MW by 2015. Biomass has the potential to contribute 12,000 MW, according to the governors’ Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee. “[Western governors] are responsible for convening relevant stakeholders to meet the project objective, which is to identify the richest and most developable renewable resource areas and the transmission necessary to move those resources to load centers,” said Rich Halvey, the association’s energy program director. The seed for the Western Renewable Energy Zones was planted when Governor Schwarzenegger and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson called on other Western state executives at the 2004 North American Energy Summit to make two major commitments: 30,000 MW of clean energy by 2015 and a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency by 2020. Soon afterward, the governors’ association formed its Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee, which made recommendations on how to achieve the lofty goals. The Western Renewable Energy Zones project came out of these recommendations. The next phases of the project--”environment and lands” and “generation and transmission”--are likely to be more controversial. -By David Kates Edited by:

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