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Study Shows Regional Electric Grid Would Energize Economy in CO, NM, AZ

Posted by Cayli Baker on Dec 6, 2022

Joining a Western RTO would power economic growth and save residents millions in annual energy costs.

December 6, 2022 – Joining a Western RTO would create thousands of permanent jobs and save ratepayers millions of dollars in annual energy costs, according to new data from Advanced Energy Economy. The findings from three new state-specific reports for Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona are based on a recent west-wide analysis conducted by independent consulting firm Energy Strategies on behalf of AEE that examined the economic impact of establishing a regional power grid.

An RTO is a cooperation agreement which allows electric utilities across multiple states to share resources and leverage the cheapest, cleanest, and most efficient energy sources through an organized regional market. Currently, the West is one of the only regions in the U.S. without an RTO managing its power grid.

“Establishing a Western RTO would bring significant economic benefits to the entire West,” said Amisha Rai, Managing Director at Advanced Energy Economy. “It’s rare to see this kind of win-win-win situation that results in new jobs, consumer energy savings, and additional state and local revenues. But that’s exactly what establishing a Western RTO would do, for each of these states. We urge these and other western states to help make a regional grid a reality.”


In Colorado, joining a Western RTO would create up to 80,000 permanent, living wage jobs, save Coloradans up to $139 million in energy costs annually, and generate up to $216 million in annual state and local revenue. This regional collaboration would also promote renewable energy infrastructure development and help accelerate the state’s trajectory towards meeting climate goals. 

“We are continuing to save people money, lower energy bills, and bring more good-paying jobs to Coloradans, and this new report confirms that a Western market advances our bold work achieving these goals,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “Colorado has committed to join a Western market by 2030, and we look forward to continuing to work with leaders across the region to lower energy costs while making progress towards our goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.”

“As leaders for a sustainable future, Colorado Rural Electric Association’s member cooperatives are excited about the possibility of an organized market in Colorado, which will benefit our consumer-members economically while helping our state achieve its clean energy goals,” said Tim Coleman, Manager of Legislative Affairs, Colorado Rural Electric Association. 


New Mexico could see up to 18,800 permanent, living wage jobs created while saving ratepayers up to $114 million in energy costs annually, while also generating up to $116 million in annual state and local revenue. Joining an RTO would also help New Mexico realize their goals of curbing the state’s carbon emissions, a top priority for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“Pattern Energy supports the formation of a Western RTO as a critical step to establishing a more resilient grid for the region,” said Sarah Webster, Senior Vice President of External Affairs & Market Development for Pattern Energy. “The coordinated transmission planning that can come from an RTO will help drive economic growth across the region while saving consumers literally billions of dollars."

"Customers and businesses across the West benefit from clean, reliable, affordable energy – and an RTO can help accelerate the opportunity coming our way from the clean energy transition,” said Rikki Seguin, Executive Director at Interwest Energy Alliance. “Interwest is excited to see this report detail just how much New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado would benefit from an RTO with good-paying permanent jobs and enormous cost savings. It's time for the West to move into action and secure our energy system."


 For Arizona, joining a western grid would create up to 28,200 jobs, and generate up to $81 million in annual state and local revenue while saving ratepayers as much $142 million in energy costs every year.  

“Arizona doesn’t have to choose between affordable energy and clean energy — we can have both,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council and SciTech Institute. “Joining a regional electric grid is the best way to catapult the state’s energy system into the 21st century, bring electricity costs down for ratepayers, shore up grid reliability and create thousands of new, high-paying jobs across diverse sectors of the economy.”

 A number of states across the West are already mobilizing around establishing a west-wide electric grid. Both Colorado and Nevada state legislatures have passed legislation directing utilities to join an RTO by 2030. California legislators also passed a resolution this session commissioning a study exploring regional collaboration opportunities and to better understand the regional transmission landscape as it relates to the formation of an RTO. 

A full copy of the region-wide analysis and the state-specific summaries can be found on the AEE website.

Topics: 21st Century Electricity System, Press Releases, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Amisha Rai