DOE to Identify Renewable Energy Zones in Western States

U.S. Department of Energy plans to contribute up to $2.3 million over three years, subject to annual appropriations, to identify areas in the Western United States with vast renewable energy resources and expedite the development and delivery of those resources to meet regional energy needs.

The Western Renewable Energy Zones project, launched by the Western Governors' Association in cooperation with DOE, furthers the department's ongoing efforts to address generation and transmission challenges through a regional approach.

DOE will carry out the study under a cooperative agreement with the association. The project will involve four phases:

• Identification of Renewable Energy Zones in the Western Interconnection;

• Development of regional transmission plans to enhance access to renewable resources located in these zones;

• Development of a transparent process for bringing together buyers and sellers of electricity generated from renewable energy sources; and

• Building interstate cooperation to address permitting and multi-state cost-allocation issues.

"Unprecedented challenges face the West in meeting the growing demand for electricity, while achieving local and global environmental goals," said Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. "The WREZ project will help us tap our vast renewable resources and develop transmission that considers communities, environmental impacts, and costs."

By identifying concentrations of viable renewable resources both within and outside of zones throughout the Western Interconnection, load-serving entities, transmission providers, renewable energy developers, and state regulators will be able to make better-informed decisions regarding both the costs of renewable power, as well as the development and siting of infrastructure to access areas with renewable sources of energy.

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