Best of the West: Wind top renewable energy source, flood watch continues, blasting off in Arizona

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting May 1, 2017, that you don't want to miss.

The Energy Information Administration reported this week that wind generators accounted for 8% of the operating electric generating capacity in the United States during 2016, which makes it the leading renewable energy source in the U.S. Four of the top five producing states are in the West: Texas, Oklahoma, California and Kansas. Nebraska also made news this week by joining the “Gigawatt Club,” with wind accounting for more than 10% of energy produced in the Cornhusker state.

Snowmelt Surge: The impact of severe winter storms continues to threaten western cities and residents:

  • In Californiasnow is 80 feet deep in some places, and daily water management coordination calls are being conducted to time reservoir releases to avoid excess runoff.
  • Montana is also preparing for rapid snowmelt, with higher-than-average snowpack levels and temperatures in the 80s expected this weekend.
  • Flooding has forced planners of the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon to reroute the course, which has been relatively unchanged for more than 30 years.

SRS Funding Squeeze: Rural Idaho schools with already tight budgets are facing another challenge, owing to reduced funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS). The program provides critical funding to districts located on federal lands, and Western Governors support the continuation of these programs. Read the letter WGA just sent to leadership of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Blast Off! An Arizona company successfully launched a 42-foot rocket prototype this week as a part of a larger initiative to begin commercial launches next year. The company also plans to launch its own constellation of micro-sats to offer sensor testing and eventually, satellite-based computing applications.

Dark is Good: Glacier National Park in Montana and Canada’s Waterton Lake National Park are being recognized for their unobstructed night-sky views. After a decade of work, the area spanning the two parks has been named the first trans-boundary International Dark Sky Park for its lack of light pollution.

Winning the Web: The Missoula group behind the popular YouTube series SciShow just won the 2017 People’s Voice Webby Award for excellence on the internet. SciShow, known for its off-beat scientific explanations, has garnered more than 650 million views on YouTube.

ATTEND WGA'S ANNUAL MEETING: Influential pollster Frank Luntz and world renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker will be keynote speakers at the 2017 WGA Annual Meeting, hosted by Gov. Steve Bullock June 26-28 in Whitefish, Montana. (See Agenda, Register)

Get even more news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Assoction on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.


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