Good news, bad news from Western Governors

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By: SGN Staff

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Quick Take: In and of itself, the proclamations emanating from the Western Governors' Association are not earthshaking. But stack them on top of the many similar initiatives and you see further reinforcement for worrisome trends. - Jesse Berst

 

The latest meeting of the Western Governors’ Association has resulted in a 10-year, regional energy "vision" that recommends easier transmission siting and a bigger emphasis on energy efficiency.

 

The plan recommends reducing the review and permitting process for transmission projects to three years. That recommendation was criticized by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Earthjustice, who want more time to review impacts, not less. The likely outcome: Even if a few states streamline their processes, that move is unlikely to reduce the lawsuits that are the principle reason for lengthy delays.

 

The call for energy efficiency (EE) is not new, but it does suggest that many Western governors will make EE part of their official agendas. Which will put more pressure on regulators to "encourage" regional utilities to increase their EE efforts. Again, nothing wrong with that provided utilities are not hit with the double whammy that has been so common – that is, asked to pay for EE programs that simultaneously reduce their income.

 

The plan also called for increased oil production and pipeline modernization as reported by the Deseret News. Chairman Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah, said the plan is the first step to a national blueprint to spur economic development while protecting the environment.

 

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.

 

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