ORIGINAL REPORTING: Transmission Developers Power Forward In West While California Stalls
Transmission developers power forward in West as move to single market inches along; Planners and developers across the West are going as far and fast as they can toward regionalization.
Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 12, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The political opposition to California’s regional ambitions remains intransigent.
Transmission planning and development all over the West is fast and furious — by transmission development standards. And yet, at the center of the activity, there is a frustrated waiting for efforts to organize the region into a single market. The Western Interconnection covers 14 states and extends from Canada to Mexico and from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains. Many utilities and power providers argue its 136,000 miles of synchronized transmission and 38 balancing authorities (BAs) could serve its more than 80 million electricity customers through a single organized electricity market. The system’s 265,000 MW of installed generation capacity accounts for 20% of U.S.-Canada nameplate power, 70% of the region’s solar and 40% of its hydro. Yet the system has only one U.S. wholesale electricity market, the state-wide California Independent System Operator (CAISO).
CAISO’s proposal to expand across the West is being stymied by California political resistance. The system operator's plan would unify Western BAs by opening its marketplace to them. Some stakeholders say that would introduce complications if it opened the state's system to federal regulation, especially with the current administration. However, a new study argues that federal oversight would not compromise California's nation-leading push for renewables. In the midst of the push for regionalization, CAISO's Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) is gaining momentum faster than advocates expected. EIMs allow BAs to exchange energy to meet real time supply-demand mismatches rather than starting up peaker plants. From two participants in 2014, it has grown to four BAs, with seven more scheduled to join in the next three years. Transmission developers in the region are also moving ahead… click here for more
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