Power line proposals for renewables need careful scrutiny as they can open new conduits for carbon-heavy resources — such as coal — that could ride new transmission lines alongside renewable electricity. Indeed, pairing renewable energy resources with conventional coal on new or upgraded power lines will undermine the climate change benefits associated with the renewable energy economy.
To avoid impacts to key western landscapes and wildlife habitat, the conservation community needs to be engaged early in the planning process, when avoidance and mitigation are most effectively addressed. Some of the key planning principles are outlined in this publication.
To avoid unnecessary conflict and ensure the timely progress of environmentally smart transmission projects, the public lands and wildlife conservation communities should be advocating for solutions during the critical planning processes that are now moving forward.
Western states are already developing the projects needed to meet their respective Renewable Portfolio Standards. The time is now for land and wildlife resource interests to advocate for well-planned renewable energy expansion with linkages to existing transmission corridors. In some cases, new transmission lines will be needed so that renewable sources can fulfill their promise of delivering a clean energy future for the West.