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Utah economy

An integrated power grid would benefit the western United States

According to a new report from the national trade association Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) by independent consultancy Energy Strategies.

A western RTO would diversify state economies and save taxpayers millions of dollars in energy costs each year, the report said. An RTO is a cooperative agreement that allows electric utilities in multiple states to share energy resources through an organized regional market. Today, the west is one of the only regions in the country without an RTO running its power grid.

Regional transmission organizations are cooperative agreements that allow electric utilities in multiple states to share energy resources through an organized 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 reduce electricity prices, add energy resources and expand business in the region.

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

“The sooner the west develops an RTO, the sooner residents of the western United States will see the economic benefits of a cleaner, more efficient power grid,” said Amisha Rai, chief executive of AEE. “The West needs a power grid that is more secure, resilient to extreme weather conditions and more accommodating to an evolving energy mix. By building an RTO of the future here in the west, states can achieve these goals while creating jobs and saving money for households and businesses.

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion