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Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California Utilities Form Partnership

Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California Utilities Form Partnership

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Seven utilities have announced formation of a partnership to advance the Frontier Line, an electric-power transmission grid that would serve Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.

However, the plans announced Monday could run afoul of California's goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Western Regional Transmission Expansion Partnership is conducting a feasibility study future electric energy demand, resources and how to pay for it.

The utility partners are Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Sierra Pacific Power, Nevada Power, Rocky Mountain Power and Utah Power. The latter two are divisions of PacifiCorp, which MidAmerican Energy Holdings recently acquired.

Govs. Jon Huntsman of Utah, Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming, Kenny Guinn of Nevada and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California signed a memorandum of understanding last year to proceed with Frontier Line plans.

During a public address at the New Frontier Power Summit under way in San Diego, Huntsman said that building the transmission line would allow "more diversified, clean energy for the West" that would "help usher in the next generation of renewable and advanced coal technologies across the West."

Frontier Line advocates have said it would be a way to get alternative energy into the distribution grid.

However, critics have said solar and wind power would account for only about 2 percent of the load. Meanwhile, plans for at least 27 new coal-fired power plants are on the boards, including at least 10 that would sell power to California.

None of them would employ a technology that allows producers to strip pollutants before the coal is burned and capture carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

California has said it won't sign any long-term electric energy contracts that would interfere with its greenhouse-gas emission reduction goals, which puts in question both the future of the planned power plants and the Frontier Line itself, because it can't be built without the assurances of long-term contracts.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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