CASPER — Wyoming plans to chart its path to net-zero emissions with an all-of-the-above approach.
A year after the Infrastructure Authority and the Pipeline Authority merged to form the Energy Authority, the agency has unveiled its energy strategy, a comprehensive framework for energy development in Wyoming.
“We have a rich abundance of hydrocarbon resources — and renewable resources,” said Glen Murrell, executive director of the Energy Authority. “And we’re going to embrace all of it. We’re not going to pick winners or try to silo off parts of the economy at all. We’re embracing everything we have.”
Murrell pointed out that energy governance in Wyoming is unusually decentralized compared with other sectors. It’s overseen by the University of Wyoming, the Business Council, the Public Service Commission and the State Geological Survey, among others.
The Energy Authority was created to oversee the entire energy sector. Coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables, newer technologies like hydrogen and carbon capture, and non-energy extractives like trona and bentonite all fall under its jurisdiction.
Its energy strategy isn’t a hard copy document. Rather, it’s intended to be an adaptable set of directions that provides cohesive guidance to different entities operating throughout the state. Murrell described it as a conceptual group of aspirations, unifying objectives and strategic opportunities.
The Energy Authority started by identifying its main objective — a stage dubbed “phase zero” — and ultimately focused the strategy on growing U.S. demand for clean energy caused by increasing concern about climate change.
“There’s an overwhelming preference and desire for people to consume energy with a low-emissions profile,” Murrell said. “In California, it might be 85%. In Texas, it might be only 55%. But no matter where you look, the majority of people want low-emissions energy.”
In phase one, the Energy Authority sought the help of key stakeholders as it refined its vision and mission. It’s now in the second phase, abatement modeling, and hopes its recently commissioned study of Wyoming’s emissions profile will provide a clearer picture of the changes needed to reach net-zero emissions statewide.
The third and final phase, expected to begin early next year, will see the strategy put into action. But the Energy Authority isn’t just waiting around for phase three to start.
“The truth is, we’re in many ways doing pieces of that already,” Murrell said. “We’re trying to work out how to get sequestration, or carbon utilization and storage, developed, and we’re making policy decisions already. So a lot of that stuff is already happening, although we’re not officially in that phase of development.”