ORIGINAL REPORTING: Power Markets Get Busy In The West
Transmission as a reliability and affordability strategy drives CAISO and SPP regional market ambitions; SPP and CAISO utilities’ collaborations could lead to new national seams connections, analysts say.
Herman K. Trabish | December 12, 2022 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Both market operators continue to move ahead aggressively to seize the benefits of regionalization.
In the newest market expansion efforts by the California Independent System Operator and the Southwest Power Pool, one plus one may equal a much bigger one. Both system operators are expanding their voluntary real-time energy imbalance markets for meeting last-minute system needs into larger day-ahead energy markets that will handle much of their system loads. And the recognition that larger markets require new transmission is driving SPP and CAISO to take on new and larger challenges, observers say.
The West’s September 2022 power system collaboration that protected reliability against larger-than-anticipated spiking demand during a heat wave “changed everything,” CAISO President and CEO Elliot Mainzer told Utility Dive in November. Western utilities and power providers now realize “collaboration can take the West further,” and are “ready for the next big step,” he said.
Rising reliability threats have also affected how Western power providers see their financial opportunities, analysts and system executives said. “There is a widening perception that serving customers through a single territory’s system has higher generation costs that lead to higher rates,” said Rob Gramlich, founder and president of Grid Strategies. But “transmission that expands access to a region’s diversity of lower cost renewables can be an affordability strategy” while also protecting reliability and accelerating decarbonization, he added.
Real-world data and projections verify the economic value of real-time and day-ahead markets, both CAISO and SPP reported. And beyond their apparent competition for participants in planned regional transmission organizations, like those in the Northeast and Midwest, a mutual vision is emerging of something even greater, some observers told Utility Dive.
Both CAISO and SPP are working methodically from real-time markets toward day-ahead markets. Total benefits from 2014 to 2019 for nine participants in CAISO’s real-time Western Energy Imbalance Market, or WEIM, of $861.8 million jumped, by the third quarter of 2022, to $2.91 billion for 19 participants, CAISO reported Oct. 31.
And WEIM collaboration protected reliability in September 2022 despite supply impediments and an unprecedented 6 GW demand spike across the West, Debra Smith, general manager and CEO of Seattle City Light, and other Western utility executives told a November 2022 CAISO Stakeholder Symposium. Their recognition of the new magnitude and frequency of reliability threats is driving support for CAISO’s Extended Day-Ahead Market, or EDAM, initiative, CAISO’s Mainzer said. The EDAM final draft proposal, released Dec. 8 for approval at a Dec. 14 CAISO meeting, defines key market structures, tariffs, transmission practices and other rules… click here for more
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