Renewable energy policies boost non-hydropower sources in West

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS), federal tax credits and other support have helped to diversify power generation fuel sources in the Western U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Coal, natural gas and hydropower continue to contribute the majority of overall power generation in the West, but state and federal policies have helped to increase the use of non-hydro renewable sources such as wind and solar. Several large-scale solar power plants have recently come online in Nevada and Arizona, adding to the renewable power capacity in the West.

The region also holds the largest concentration of hydroelectric capacity in the nation, and that capacity has a strong seasonal effect on both the system’s fuel mix throughout the year and the region’s wholesale electric prices in the late spring, when the seasonal runoff typically occurs, EIA said.

The closure of the 2,200 MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station lowered nuclear output in the West, but new generation brought online this past summer helped to offset the lost output from the plant.

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