Coal will remain strong - someone has to build these new plants and furnish the coal. Western power plan gets support
The governors of four Western states announced their support Monday for the building of 1,300 miles of power lines that would carry electricity from the coal fields of Wyoming to energy-starved Southern California.
In a memorandum of agreement, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal established a compact that will try to speed government and regulatory approvals for the power lines and the plants that would generate the electricity.
"There's a growing recognition in the West that what was once viewed exclusively as a California need is a Western problem," said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, a key player in the effort. "California is probably within a few years of being up against the wall on energy demand that will siphon capacity from West."
Year 2011 is the target
The Frontier Line project, conceived by Freudenthal and former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt in 2003, would begin delivering electricity to booming Southern California, Nevada and possibly Utah as early as 2011. The transmission lines are expected to cost about $2 billion.
The governors are hoping that the transmission-line project will encourage energy companies to build power plants in Wyoming and elsewhere in the West.
The new power plants would be able to produce as much as 12,000 megawatts of electricity, which could power up to 10 million homes. They are expected to use a combination of coal and renewable fuels.
The governors have set up a committee that will hire consultants for the project, recruit developers and line up financing, which is expected to come from the states and matching federal funds. Eventually, the states could be reimbursed by the project's main developer.
No utilities on board yet
No utility companies have signed on the project yet, though officials said the West's four main companies have been briefed on the work -- PacificCorp in Wyoming and Utah, Sierra Pacific Resources in Nevada and Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric in California.
The plan comes as Southern California prepares to face another summer with tight power supplies. California suffered a power shortage in 2000 and 2001 that led to rolling blackouts.
Electricity consumption in the West has grown 60 percent over the past 20 years, but the region's transmission system has expanded only by 20 percent. The Western Governors' Association last year set a goal of finding 30,000 megawatts of new clean energy by 2015.
50% of US ele power produced by coal, it's (was) cheap, plentyful, and dirty ( nothing is perfect), we have 500 years supply......coal is not going away, only more expensive.....unless we have a major resession.....the beat goes on.......