There is so much good news coming out of the western U.S. these days on coal and clean energy. First up – another domino fell for the Blackstone Group.

Blackstone had been funding the construction of three new coal-fired power plants in the U.S. (I’ve written about them before). Last month the River Hill plant in Pennsylvania was canceled – and now this week we saw the plans for Toquop change in a major way:

Blackstone subsidiary Sithe Global announced they will now build the plant as “a 750-megawatt gas plant with a 100-mw photovoltaic solar plant.” This will create 1,000 jobs, and again demonstrates that coal plants are just not financially viable anymore.

Now Blackstone and Sithe Global only have one proposed coal-fired power plant left – Desert Rock in New Mexico, which we’re also helping fight. Does Blackstone see the writing on the wall? Will Desert Rock see a switch or total cancellation?

Meanwhile, one of Nevada’s neighbor is taking great strides toward clean energy. Yesterday Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed a bill increasing the state’s renewable electricity standard. Now, 30% of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2020:

The Governor’s Energy Office has predicted the program could result in as many as 100,000 homes with solar panels, small wind turbines or other energy-producing devices.

And with all that increased solar and wind power comes more jobs for Coloradans, too. To add to the job increasing potential of Colorado, the state’s also discussing a bill that will phase out coal-fired power plants. The Clean Air Clean Jobs bill, or HB1365, calls for converting several outdated coal-fired power plants in the Front Range area into cleaner energy sources.  This legislation is the result of an agreement reached by Governor Ritter, Xcel Energy and other local stakeholders to significantly improve Denver and Boulder’s air quality. 

Finally in coal-free western U.S. news, Los Angeles is slowly moving towards it goal of being coal-free by 2020. The city currently gets around 44% of its electricity from coal, and last year LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his initiative to move the city completely beyond coal by 2020. Now a proposal to fund the projects that will help achieve ths plan is facing a vote from the City Council. I encourage you to read my colleague Bill Corcoran’s column on Huffington Post to get a good look at how that process is moving along.

It’s a trend in the west – move away from coal and toward clean energy. Let’s hope it continues!