By - Jim Vess

Western Energy Imbalance Market posts a record quarter, cutting costs, providing benefits

Energize Weekly, August 8, 2018

The western Energy Imbalance Market, which serves seven utilities and the California grid operator, posted a record $71.2 million in benefits to its members in the second quarter of 2018, according to the organization.

The market, known as the EIM, is a real-time bulk power trading market to balance electricity supply among its members and the 42 million customers they serve in eight western states. It operates on the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) platform with its automatic market-matching technology.

The second quarter benefit marked a 70 percent jump over the first quarter of 2018, which had been the previous record. Since its inception, the real-time western energy market has provided a total of nearly $402 million in benefits.

The benefits are measured in cost savings in dispatch and transfer costs that each member has to incur to keep its system in balance.

The benefits have grown as the participants in the market have increased. The market started in 2014 with CAISO and PacifiCorp, which operates in California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.

Nevada’s NV Energy joined in 2015, and Arizona Public Service and Puget Sound Energy in 2016. Portland General Electric became a member in 2017. In April, Powerex, a wholesale trader run by Canada’s BC Hydro, and Idaho Power Co. joined the market.

In the second quarter, CAISO posted the biggest benefits from the market, saving almost $28 million. It was followed by PacifiCorp’s $11.7 million and Arizona Public Service’s $8.6 million in savings.

Among the other members: Idaho Power saw $7.8 million in benefits, NV Energy $5.3 million, Portland General $5.3 million, Powerex $2.3 million and Puget Sound Energy $2.3 million.

In 2020, the market is set to get four new members: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Salt River Project in Arizona, Seattle City Light, and the Balancing Authority of Northern California, which includes Sacramento.

The second quarter of 2018 saw an increase in energy moving out of California through the EIM, as the system experienced high levels of renewable production at a time in the season when temperatures are still cool and electric demand is moderate.

In addition to optimizing diverse resources and cutting costs, the EIM helps integrate renewable energy resources, bolstering carbon-free generation, an added environmental benefit. Overall market members cut carbon in the region by 55,267 metric tons, according to the EIM.

The market was able to absorb 129,128 megawatt-hours of excess renewable energy that otherwise would have been curtailed.

Since 2015, the EIM estimates it has decreased carbon emissions by 306,112 metric tons, roughly equivalent to avoiding emissions from 64,359 passenger cars driven for a year.

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