In 2000 and 2001 the West experienced drammatic price increases for energy and rolling brownouts. Western Governors recognized the need to cooperate regionally to ensure the region had adequate and affordable energy supplies to ensure the region's continued economic growth and quality of life. They also realized the need to diversify the energy sources the West relied on to generate electricity and fuel its vehicles.
Governors have been working together and with industry and other stakeholders since 2000 to ensure western businesses and consumers have the energy they need now and well into the future. Below is information Governors asked WGA to develop, in consultation with stakeholders, on energy demand and energy generation. For information on the Governors' efforts to improve transmission of energy click here.
Nuclear Energy Workshop
In April 2011, the WGA convened a workshop on Nuclear Energy in the West with experts from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Electric Power Research Institute, national laboratories, utilities, state and local governments, and public interest groups. The participants were asked to provide perspective on how the West could best position itself to consider how nuclear energy can be part of the clean energy future the West supports.
The results of that workshop are contained in the report, The Future of Nuclear Energy: Shaping A Western Policy. The report focuses on the role for and challenges associated with nuclear energy production in the West. This includes education programs, job- and career-growth, economic expansion, environmental and public health and safety benefits, and the path toward energy independence and security.
Industrial Energy Efficiency Summit
WGA held an Industrial Energy Efficiency Summit on March 16 -17, 2011 to gather policy recommendations from a diverse group of stakeholders. Attendees included representatives from utilities, industry, the U.S. Department of Energy, and organizations that promote and implement energy efficiency projects.
During the meeting, a diverse group of panelists presented their findings on the significant cost savings that can be accrued with IEE programs, as well as existing and potential impediments to initiating such programs. Breakout sessions were held and recommendations for removing barriers to IEE projects will be compiled in a report and presented to the Governors at their Annual Meeting in June 2011.
Building an Energy-Efficient Future
Western Governors have recommended policies and best practices for energy-efficient building that could dramatically reduce the demand for energy and water, while providing a boost to the region’s economy. The recommendations included in the report, Building an Energy-Efficient Future, were developed during a workshop, which included stakeholders representing building industries, utilities, public interest groups, all levels of government and energy service companies.
Participants were tasked with developing strategies that would achieve a 30 percent or greater improvement in energy efficiency over current International Energy Conservation Code standards. The report was written for governors, legislators and other public and private entities that are working to craft larger and more effective efficiency and conservation programs. The governors noted in a joint letter accompanying the report that energy efficiency and conservation represent “a vast and still underutilized” domestic energy resource.
America's transportation is largely fueled by gasoline and diesel. To improve the region's energy security, environment and economy the Governors are working together to promote alternative fuels for transportation. The Governors' Advisory Committee on Transportation Fuels for the Future proposed strategies to accelerate the development of alternative transportation fuels. The Advisory Committee also proposes strategies for improving vehicle fuel efficiency.
Alternative fuels considered included biofuels (ethanol, biomethane/biogas, and biobutanol), bio- and renewable-diesel, electricity, coal-to-liquids, natural gas/propane and hydrogen.
Deploying Near-Zero Technologies for Coal: A Path Forward
Recommendations for deploying near-zero technologies for coal were developed by stakeholders participating in a WGA workshop in 2007. The purpose of the workshop was to determine a path to achieving full, commercial-scale deployment of near-zero emissions coal technology, including carbon capture and sequestration. A workshop summary identified a number of concepts that governmental entities could consider in developing both technical and regulatory pathways for the deployment of near-zero-emission, coal-fired power plants.
Bioenergy and biobased products through the conversion of biomass residuals from forest health projects and commercial agriculture. is another potential source of energy. Biomass is plant matter that includes trees, grasses, agricultural crops and other living plant material and residues.
By finding value in what would otherwise be waste-streams, handling and treatment costs are reduced. In the case of wildfire, reduced costs translate to a reduced threat and consequence of wildfire for communities and the environment because more fuel treatment work is possible. In the case of agriculture, increased biomass utilization reduces environmental demands, provides farmers and ranchers more options and can be a source of energy.
The WGA helped to address two significant natural resource challenges in the West – developing a clean and renewable source of energy and restoring the health of our forests. A database of projects that have were funded is located here.
Clean and Diversified Energy Initiative
Western Governors are encouraging the region to utilize its diverse resources to produce affordable, sustainable, and environmentally responsible energy. The Governors priorities are outlined in a resolution the Governors adopted in 2006, based on the recommendations of their Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee. The committee’s report identified changes in state and federal policy that would be needed to achieve:
- 30,000 megawatts of new clean and diverse energy generation by 2015,
- A 20 percent increase in energy efficiency by 2020, and
- Adequate transmission capacity for the region over the next 25 years.
A report tracking progress on achieving these goals was released in June 2007.