Western governors announced last week that they have unanimously agreed to pursue a regional approach to boosting renewable energy sources and energy efficiency through the bipartisan Western Governors’ Association (WGA), according to an announcement from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, co-leader of the effort along with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the current chairman of the governors’ group.

As approved last Tuesday, the governors’ association resolution sets a goal of developing 30,000 MW of “clean energy” through the West over the next 10 years (2015). This means greatly boosting the amounts of electricity produced for solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, clean coal technologies, and advanced natural gas technologies. In addition, it sets a goal for each state increasing their energy efficiency by 20% by the year 2010.

Called the “Clean and Diversified Energy Initiative” at the governors’ group with a two-year period to be jump-started by the WGA staff, the new effort aims to develop “a clean, secure and diversified energy system for the West and to capitalize on the region’s immense energy resources,” according to Schwarzenegger, who pointed to California’s past initiatives in both areas as models for the region.

“California has historically been very aggressive in promoting renewable energy and the highest efficiency energy standards,” the California governor said. “We have proven that cost-effective efficiency programs can help reduce overall energy use, protect our environment and save consumers in the long run. I think it’s fantastic that my fellow western governors came together today in this bipartisan spirit to affirm our mutual commitment to a clean, diversified energy future throughout the West.”

Last April Schwarzenegger and Richardson formally surfaced the idea with their colleagues in WGA; Tuesday’s vote was described as the “next step” in the development process, although Schwarzenegger was not present because of current state budget negotiations with the legislature in California. He was represented by other state officials.

Both the incoming WGA Chairman, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, and Richardson joined the California governor in praising the effort. As a former federal Energy Department secretary in the Clinton Administration and member of Congress, Richardson has been championing renewable development and better efficiency standards for New Mexico for the past two years.

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