With More Transmission Lines, West Could Make Billions Selling Green Energy

"Building more regional infrastructure to distribute electricity in the West could help states more affordably meet their clean energy goals, a new study found. And they could turn hefty profits selling power out of state."

"The four western states that have traditionally exported large amounts of electricity generated with fossil fuels to neighboring states are poised to draw tens of billions of dollars by exporting clean energy across state lines, but only if the region can successfully expand the vast network of interstate transmission lines needed to distribute the electricity, according to a new study released Wednesday by RMI, the clean energy research and advocacy group.

At stake is a market for electricity from Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Montana that could grow to nearly $50 billion by 2050 or dwindle to just $3 billion if more transmission lines aren’t built. The economic impacts could be far-reaching, not just for those four states, but the entire Western U.S. If the entire region was able to coordinate interstate transmission lines, for example, it could reduce the cost of shifting to a carbon-free grid by 30 percent, according to the report, saving billions of dollars for ratepayers across the West and enabling states to better meet their clean energy goals.

“The larger area you plan over, the larger the savings,” said Tyler Farrell, a senior associate at RMI’s carbon-free electricity program and co-author of the study.

Renewable energy projects are booming in the West, with vast solar fields, wind farms and other clean energy technologies coming online or being proposed across the region. The Biden administration has said the 245 million acres of public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management are key to the nation’s energy transition away from fossil fuels, with rules in place to streamline development."

Wyatt Myskow reports for Inside Climate News April 18, 2024.

Source: Inside Climate News, 04/19/2024