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11 August 2022

Integrated power grid would be economic boon for western US – study

A western regional transmission organisation would create 657,000 jobs and increase annual state revenues by $79bn, according to new research.

By Oliver Gordon

Establishing a regional transmission organisation (RTO) for western states in the US would create as many as 657,000 jobs and increase annual gross state revenue by up to $79bn for the region, according to a new report for national business association Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) by independent consultancy Energy Strategies.

A western RTO would diversify state economies and save ratepayers millions of dollars in energy costs every year, states the report. An RTO is a cooperation agreement that allows electric utilities across multiple states to share energy resources through an organised regional market. Today, the west is one of the only regions in the country without an RTO managing its power grid.

Regional transmission organisations are cooperation agreements that allow electric utilities across multiple states to share energy resources through an organised regional market. (Photo by Andy A Widmer/EyeEm via Getty Images)

The research found that all western states – which it defines as Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming – would benefit economically from an RTO, which would lower electricity prices, add clean energy resources and grow business in the region. 

By 2030, compared with the status quo, a western RTO could save western states $2bn in annual energy costs, while adding up to 4.4GW of additional clean energy to the grid.

“The sooner the west develops an RTO, the sooner residents of the western US will see the economic benefits of a cleaner and more efficient power grid,” says Amisha Rai, managing director at AEE. “The west needs a more secure power grid that is resilient to extreme weather and more welcoming to a changing energy mix. In building an RTO of the future here in the west, states can achieve those goals while creating jobs and delivering financial savings for households and businesses.”

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