CAISO And PacifiCorp Join Forces To Boost Western Grid Reliability, Integrate
Feb 13, 2013 - renewgrid.com
PacifiCorp and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) have released
a memorandum of understanding that commits the two largest western U.S. grid
operators to work toward creating a real-time energy imbalance market (EIM)
by October 2014. Authorization to proceed with negotiating a formal agreement
between the companies will be considered by CAISO's board of governors during
its general meeting in March.
If the agreement is implemented, PacifiCorp, which controls two balancing
authorities primarily covering portions of six states, including part of northern
California, would participate in a co-optimized real-time energy market facilitated
by CAISO. However, CAISO notes that the joint agreement applies only to the
EIM service; PacifiCorp is not joining CAISO and will maintain control of its
assets and responsibilities for serving its customers.
"Increased coordination of energy systems in the West is critical if
we are to meet important challenges, such as ensuring reliability, keeping
costs down for customers and effectively integrating renewable resources,” says
PacifiCorp Chairman and CEO Greg Abel. “We’re hopeful this agreement
between PacifiCorp and the ISO signals a significant step toward broader coordination
across the West.”
According to CAISO, participants in the EIM voluntarily take advantage of
generation resources across the entire EIM region, with the added benefit of
more frequent dispatching in real time to optimize available energy supplies
with actual power demand. Without an EIM, only generation assets within each
balancing authority can be used to cover these short-term gaps.
Dramatic increases in the amount of wind and solar power in recent years require
grid operators to hold more flexible generation in reserve to account for the
variability of renewable resources, which are dependent on weather conditions.
CAISO says this announcement marks a step forward in the West to more ably
manage current and future energy challenges.
The announcement has earned praise among stakeholders in the renewable energy
industry. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), for example, says the
move will save consumers money and help facilitate renewable energy growth
throughout the western U.S. AWEA also notes that the EIM will use computer
technology to exchange electricity at five-minute intervals, instead of by
telephone every hour, as was formerly the case.
“We hope other utilities across the West will join this proven solution
for reducing electric bills and allowing more clean energy onto the power grid,” comments
Rob Gramlich, AWEA’s interim CEO.
“This is the single most beneficial step that can be taken to use our
existing power grid more efficiently,” he continues. “In the year
2013, it is about time that electric companies that want to exchange electricity
with their neighbors move beyond using telephone calls and manual processes
to do so, while much of the rest of the country is using computers and automated
The PacifiCorp/ISO agreement initiates a public input process, as well as
further analysis and negotiations between the two parties before full implementation
of the expanded EIM.