Monday, May 23, 2005

The Push is On for Renewables in Nevada

From the Reno Gazette-Journal, news of a coalition formed by Nevada environmental and progressive groups "to ensure a proposed 1,300-mile electric transmission line reserves space for renewable energy. Without specific guarantees for renewable-energy sources, they fear the new power line will simply “grease the skids” for more coal-fired power plants in the West."
At issue is a multi-state project called the Frontier Line
hat could deliver up to 12,000 megawatts of electricity –– enough for up to 12 million homes –– from power produced in the Great Basin states. Once plans are prepared, the governors intend to turn the $3 billion project over to private industry to build.

The project is expected to save Californians $325-$400 million a year on their electric bills. And given a historic growth rate of 2 percent, Californians need 1,000 megawatts a year and a stronger transmission line network to help avoid the blackouts that occurred in 2000 and 2001.

The transmission line would run from Wyoming coal fields across Nevada to Southern California, serving Las Vegas as well as Salt Lake City.
While both California and Nevada have created ambitious renewable energy goals; additionally, "The plan calls for half of the energy to come from renewable sources such as solar, wind or geothermal that will be within easy reach of the Frontier Line; but there is nothing that compels anyone to produce that kind of energy." Environmental groups fear that traditional fossil fuels-based utility companies will use their political clout to muscle in and dominate the project:
John Coequyt, Greenpeace energy policy specialist in Washington, D.C., said environmentalists have not been consulted so far.

“Clearly they want to connect with the coal fields of Wyoming to Southern California. The environmental community was not part of this at all.”
This will be an interesting battle to watch. Hopefully, it will demonstrate how progressive groups can unite around an issue and use their collective strength to negotiate effectively.

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