Western governors talk energy
CASPER, Wyo. – Western states are on track to surpass a 2004 goal of adding 30,000 megawatts of “clean and diversified” energy generation in the region by 2015, according to a report from the Western Governors’ Association.The report released Sunday said 80,000 megawatts is possible with better cooperation from the federal government.The report came out as the Western Governors’ Association began its annual conference in Deadwood, S.D. Scheduled speakers included U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Commissioner Sudeen Kelly.The report highlights progress since the 2004 North American Energy Summit, where other goals were set, including a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency by 2020.The report said Western states could produce even more electricity from sources including wind, biomass and the sun if the federal government made good on promises to provide loan guarantees and other incentives.Several Western governors on Sunday criticized Congress and the Bush administration for not doing more to boost clean energy.”Western states are serious about the development of domestic renewable energy. Congress, as usual, is talking about it. We need action,” said Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.”The potential for the West is astounding,” South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds said. “Our work is not yet done.”According to the report, Western states added 1,986 megawatts of clean energy generation in 2005, and 2,092 megawatts in 2006. Of all new power generation in the region, 25 percent was categorized as “clean and diversified,” consisting of wind, geothermal, biomass and solar.Wind power accounted for 93 percent of clean energy additions. Potential wind power developers and investors, however, have been concerned that a federal tax incentive for wind development has been continued in only two-year increments.The Western governors want the federal government to commit to incentives that would last for at least 10 years. Rounds said that would send a signal that renewable energy development is a trend that will continue.Several governors also complained that the Bush administration has leased vast acreage for oil and gas development in key wildlife habitat, yet relies on states to come up with solutions to conserve declining species such as the sage grouse.”Frankly, we’d be pleased if the feds weren’t so fired up on oil and gas in the West,” said Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal.Schweitzer agreed that federal officials need to work more closely with Western states to diversify domestic energy supplies while maintaining wildlife habitat.”How about talking to the governors about where they lease?” Schweitzer said.The meeting was scheduled through Tuesday.—Information from: Star-Tribune, http://www.casperstartribune.net
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