Report Strengthens Unified Electric Authority for Western States | Washington
(The Center Square) – A new report from the consultancy Energy strategies found that establishing a regional transmission system for western states could bring significant economic benefits to the region, including up to 657,000 high-paying permanent jobs and $2 billion in annual energy savings .
An RTO coordinates, controls and monitors a multi-state power grid.
Currently, the West is one of the only regions in the United States without RTO managing its electrical grid.
Energy Strategies’ analysis found that every state in the Western Region – Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming – could expect to benefit of an RTO.
According to the report, an RTO could benefit the regional economy by lowering electricity prices, stimulating clean energy development, expanding existing businesses and attracting new businesses.
In addition to generating jobs through 2030 and reducing energy costs, the report predicts up to $79.2 billion in additional gross regional product per year across the 11 states and the addition of 4,400 megawatts of clean energy to the Western grid.
“At AEE, we commissioned this study to examine the economic impact of a western RTO and what it would mean for the region and the states,” said Amisha Rai, AEE’s chief executive, during a briefing. virtual press on Tuesday morning.
Todd Myers, Environmental Director for the Free Market Washington Policy Center think tank in Seattle, said an RTO would mean trade-offs.
“Like everything, it’s a mixed bag,” he said. “Generally, expanding electricity trade between states makes the system more resilient, allowing power to go where there is demand.”
The report’s RTO job creation numbers seemed too rosy to Myers.
“The projection of creating a huge amount of new jobs seems ridiculous to me though,” he said. “Such projections are extremely speculative.”
Myers noted that not all states would see the same results under an RTO.
“But the impacts will vary from state to state,” he said. “Washington has some of the lowest electricity rates in the country, if not the lowest. Increasing interstate trading would create more competition for our electricity and likely drive our rates up while lowering rates in other areas. other states.
He went on to say, “Overall, overall costs could go down, but not all states would necessarily see the benefits.”
A collective arrangement like an RTO would also mean that individual state laws could end up having an effect on other Western states, Myers pointed out.
“Additionally, energy mix laws would still be state-to-state,” he said. “So if California made any senseless decisions — like shutting down the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant — that would put additional pressure on Washington state’s electricity.”
The Diablo Canyon plant is expected to close one unit in 2024 and the second in 2025. The closures are part of a settlement agreement reached by plant operator Pacific Gas & Electric Co., environmental groups and authorities local.
With the threat of power shortages looming, California leaders — including Governor Gavin Newsom — are considering delaying the long-planned shutdown of the state’s last nuclear power plant.
“It already exists to some degree,” Myers said of other states’ pressure on Washington’s electricity, “but an RTO would, in theory, increase the impact of other states’ policies on Washington”.
In the coming months, the EEA plans to release reports on an RTO’s impact on individual Western states, said Caitlin Liotiris, director at Energy Strategies.