DOE awards WGA $12 million to assist states examine best options for new transmission

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December 18, 2009

Denver -- The U.S. Department of Energy today awarded the Western Governors' Association  $12 million  to assist the 11 states within the Western Interconnection in planning for new transmission while considering such factors as future demand, a diverse mix of resources, environmental concerns and greater energy efficiency. 
A number of scenarios for potential new transmission will be developed and evaluated on how each one may affect water supplies, wildlife, landscapes and state economies.  Funding will come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and more than 85 percent of those funds will directly support the states' work.
This grant will support future phases of the Western Renewable Energy Zones initiative.  During the first phase completed in June, a stakeholder-based process was used to identify those areas within the Western Interconnection that have the greatest potential for large scale development of renewable resources and low environmental impacts.  These funds will allow governors and public utility commissioners to work jointly in examining the advantages and disadvantages of the various transmission scenarios.
"On behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank Secretary Steven Chu for DOE's continued support of WGA's efforts," said Gov. Brian Schweitzer (Mont.), WGA's Chairman. "Western states are committed to bringing online an abundance of clean and diverse energy resources, and this grant will help us determine the best ways to go about it." 
States will also receive funding to identify key wildlife corridors and crucial wildlife habitats and to develop new decision-support systems tailored to meet the specific needs of each state.
"Such tools will allow us to evaluate potential impacts and integrate them into the transmission planning process - up front - and to find ways to provide electricity to our communities while sustaining the water and wildlife resources that are so important to the West," said Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), WGA's Vice Chairman.
Work conducted with this grant will substantially improve the quality of information available to state and federal policy makers and regulators, as well as industry planners.  Additional information on the grant proposal can be found on the Web at: http://www.westgov.org/wga/initiatives/wrez/index.htm.

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