States across the Western region vary in their access to and use of renewable energy sources. Many states continue to rely heavily on fossil power-plants, with high pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Other states, such as California, have excess renewable energy sources during parts of the day, but lack access to ready markets for their green energy. There are also challenges to integrating some renewable resources, such as wind and solar, since they are subject to weather patterns that may not match demand.
With the goal of dramatically improving how Western states access and trade renewable energy resources like solar, wind, geothermal and others, SB 155 acknowledges that many renewable resources, like solar and wind, are intermittent; that is, the sun isn’t always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing. Moreover, these resources aren’t always available when needed. For some of the year California’s peak power demand is in the evening, as the sun sets. Fortunately, this is usually when evening breezes pick up in the Northwest. As envisioned by Hertzberg, coordinating these assets across the Western region would substantially increase use of green energy.
What was the problem?
What is the solution?
Senator Bob Hertzberg proposed a new plan to help improve how Western states trade and integrate renewable energy resources, like solar, wind, geothermal and others. His plan would guide the development of a new regional electricity market and grid operator to manage diverse needs across the West. Participation in the marketplace would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, deliver power more efficiently, avoid costs for duplicative infrastructure, increase transmission-grid efficiency, and raise awareness of energy availability and pricing. By coordinating these efforts across the Western region, Hertzberg plans on dramatically increasing access to reliable and less expensive sources of renewable energy, helping to reduce pollution across the region.
Buttressing Hertzberg’s plan is a recent study by the California Independent System Operator. An efficient Western grid could lower pollution levels by nearly 2.6 million metric tons annually, the equivalent of removing more than 230,000 cars from the road each year.
Hertzberg's bill outlines how electricity grid operators in Western states participate in an energy marketplace that would comply with greenhouse gas rules, balance power delivery, avoid costly development of duplicative infrastructure, increase transmission-grid efficiency and raise awareness of energy availability and pricing. Any imported coal-generated energy would be subject to the California’s cap-and-trade program.
The bill would also allow California to export its own renewable power to other states that currently rely on coal-fired power plants. Recent energy measurements and forecasts by state regulators show that California has more solar power during the middle of the day than can be used.