A new report, "Western Grid 2050: Contrasting Futures, Contrasting Fortunes" (the "Report") was issued today by the Western Grid Group ("WGG") with support from the Western Clean Energy Advocates ("WCEA"). The purpose of the Report is to inform policy and investment decisions for the Western electricity sector. Former Colorado Governor Ritter today joined advocacy groups in calling for western state leadership to work towards achieving the Report's vision.
The Report anticipates that the Western electricity sector will need to invest more than $200 billion by 2030 however, how this money is invested will significantly affect quality of life in the west. According to the report,
To explore and evaluate the relative economic, environmental, energy security and public health consequences of the different investment choices, the report examined two trajectories: "Business as Usual" ("BAU") and "Clean Energy Vision" ("CEV"). In the study, the BAU trajectory focuses discretionary investment on retrofitting, repowering and adding coal generation and on meeting any incremental needs with new gas fired generation and the CEV trajectory focuses discretionary electricity resource investment on energy saving and renewable energy technologies.
One of the goals of the Report was to encourage an open dialogue on electricity system investment priorities in the West. In comparing the two trajectories, BAU and CEV futures will require different regulatory and policy mechanisms. The BAU paradigm is based on the existing infrastructure.
On the other hand, the report provides that the CEV trajectory will require different infrastructure, different planning and different regulation to support it.
The Report is the first in a series of planned reports by the WGG and WCEA. In September, the WGG and WCEA intend to release the second phase of the report, "Clean Energy Vision Policies" describing mechanisms that can be used to guide transition to the CEV trajectory.
The Western Grid 2050 report can be found here: http://www.cleanenergyvision.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/WG2050_final_rev082211.pdf