Portland General Electric (PGE), which serves 840,000 electricity customers in Oregon, announced its intention on September 18 to explore steps to join the western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) launched in November 2014 by PacifiCorp and the California Independent System Operator (CAL-ISO). The process, which the utility said would offer economic value to its ratepayers, would take about two years.
An EIM is a real-time energy wholesale market that automatically dispatches the lowest-cost electricity resources available to meet utility customer needs while optimizing use of renewable energy over a large geographic area.
In announcing its interest in the western EIM, PGE said it would withdraw from further participation in a market initiative led by the Northwest Power Pool Members’ Market Assessment and Coordination Committee, which has been exploring alternative models to promote better resource coordination among utilities in the region. PGE will continue to work with the NWPP members on enhancements to regional reliability and will honor its commitment to help fund the initiative through the end of this year.
“We’ve been an active participant in the NWPP MC initiative and have worked hard with other members to develop regional solutions since the effort began in 2011,” PGE CEO Jim Piro adding, “In the end, the reduced resource footprint available among participants in the NWPP MC initiative shifted the economic value for our customers to favor us moving instead toward the western EIM.”
Today, the western EIM serves customers in parts of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Las Vegas-based NV Energy is scheduled to join the EIM later this year; followed in 2016 by Bellevue, Washington-based Puget Sound Energy and Phoenix-based Arizona Public Service.
PGE said it has been evaluating its participation in either the NWPP MC initiative or the western EIM as part of its current integrated resource planning process. The utility noted that recent decisions by other regional utilities to join the western EIM have left the NWPP MC initiative with a reduced footprint that limits the value to PGE customers of further engagement.
PGE’s participation in the western EIM will be subject to negotiation over coming months, and is targeted to begin in the fall of 2017.