Power planners in the Northwest are considering a multi-state approach to federal carbon reduction rules.
The region's clearest path to meeting carbon targets may come from the Northwest continuing its march toward energy efficiency.
Director of power planning at the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Tom Eckman, says if those efforts continue to be successful - and if coal plants in Oregon and Washington close, as scheduled - carbon targets are attainable, across the region.
But efficiency at a state level could be tough for Montana. Its five coal plants generate lots of power for consumers in other states. Eckman says a multi-state alliance could spread the carbon burden.
"On the one hand, they have great advantages, by reducing the aggregate costs," Eckman said. "But on the other, the institutional arrangements are not in place to make that happen. That would be a real lift."
Eckman says such an alliance might need support form private utilities and the public Bonneville Power Administration.
This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.