Washington, D.C., May 28, 2008 — U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) assistant secretary for electricity delivery and energy reliability Kevin Kolevar announced the DOE’s plans to contribute up to $2.3 million over three years, subject to annual appropriations, to identify areas in the Western United States with renewable energy resources, and expedite the development and delivery of those resources to meet regional energy needs. The Western Renewable Energy Zones (WREZ) project, launched by the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) in cooperation with DOE, furthers the Department’s ongoing efforts to address generation and transmission challenges through a regional approach.
“The importance of this initiative is two-fold; not only does it highlight the areas in the West that are able to provide clean, reliable, and abundant sources of energy, it also stresses the importance of regional electricity planning to prevent the balkanization of new renewable sources and develop the infrastructure necessary to carry this power to consumers,” Kolevar said.
The DOE will carry out the study under a cooperative agreement with the WGA. The project will involve four phases:
1) Identification of renewable energy zones (REZs) in the Western Interconnection;
2) Development of regional transmission plans to enhance access to renewable resources located in these zones;
3) Development of a transparent process for bringing together buyers and sellers of electricity generated from renewable energy sources; and
4) Building interstate cooperation to address permitting and multi-state cost-allocation issues.
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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