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December 2018  •   Issue 17
The ISO is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that manages the bulk electric market, and the flow of electricity over the high-voltage, long-distance power lines for California and a small part of Nevada.

ISO makes progress in 2018 to fortify grid and add flexibility


As 2018 winds to a close, the ISO staff looks back on a year of progress toward a more reliable and efficient grid, geared primarily to support more renewables coming online.

First, the ISO announced that its Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) surpassed a half-billion dollars in gross benefits, according to the third-quarter EIM report. The report showed the highest benefits of any quarter since the start of the real-time energy market in 2014. During the quarter, the market generated more than $100 million in savings, driving overall total benefits to more than $502 million.

Savings were achieved by optimizing resources, including taking advantage of surplus renewable power supplies, across a wide geographical region. 

Idaho Power and Powerex joined the market in 2018, bringing the total to eight entities serving 42 million electricity consumers in the western US, stretching from the Canadian border to Arizona and east to Wyoming. Five more entities have committed to joining over the next several years, boosting the prospect of cost savings while reducing CO2 emissions.

The ISO also embarked on a set of significant enhancements to its day-ahead electricity market, aimed at dramatically increasing efficiency while integrating larger amounts of renewable energy and distributed resources.

The Day-Ahead Market Enhancements are intended to lead the transition to a low-carbon grid, reliably manage the system during industry transformation, and promote collaboration that will unlock greater regional benefits.

The ISO also made important strides in the field of integrating energy storage projects in the past year, aiming to lower ratepayer costs and create a more efficient system. While energy storage in the past has primarily been limited to market-based services, such as supplying electricity and ancillary services, it is increasingly being viewed as capable of offering transmission services, such as voltage stability and thermal overload prevention.

In 2018, the ISO approved two storage assets to address transmission-related needs. The ISO also began its stakeholder initiative process exploring ways to lower costs of storage projects approved for transmission needs by allowing these resources to participate in the market when not needed for transmission services.

The Storage as a Transmission Asset initiative is giving additional insight into how ISO will evaluate storage resources capable of participating in the market in its transmission planning process, and once approved as a transmission resource, how those resources could participate in the market while maintaining reliability.

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Federal regulators OK ISO’s Reliability Coordinator plan


The California ISO’s effort to provide Reliability Coordinator (RC) services took an important step forward last month, when federal regulators approved tariff amendments to allow the ISO to offer the services in the western United States.

A Reliability Coordinator has the highest level of authority and responsibility for the reliable operation of the power grid, and has a wide-area view of the bulk electricity system. It is required to comply with federal and regional grid standards, and can authorize measures to prevent or mitigate system emergencies in day-ahead or real-time operations.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order of approval, handed down on Nov. 14, 2018, means the ISO can become its own RC provider and start taking signed agreements from other interested balancing authorities in the Western Interconnection.

The ISO proposed a new tariff section for RC service, a service agreement for customers, and a rate schedule. FERC accepted the revisions and rule changes needed to start onboarding of customers. The ISO is targeting July 2019 for its RC services to become operational.

The ISO began the process of becoming a certified Reliability Coordinator in January 2018, and has formed working groups from more than three dozen interested parties to integrate operations, data sharing, and other technical aspects of the new RC. The ISO will take over providing those services from Peak RC, which announced it will shut down its operations at the end of 2019.

Visit the RC webpage on the ISO site to learn more about the program.

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ISO redesigned a host of webpages, mobile app in 2018


From tracking carbon emissions to online training sessions for the public, the ISO has improved its website to increase access to grid information.

A new feature added in 2018 to the ISO website provides data allowing visitors to identify yearly trends on emissions output serving ISO demand, and track progress on the policies implemented to reduce electric system emissions.

The ISO also unveiled a major overhaul of its popular mobile application, the ISO Today. The new design makes it easier for users to tap into comprehensive and dynamic energy data at their fingertips.

With the refreshed app, users can view grid conditions, including available electricity capacity compared to current and forecasted peak demand, amounts of renewable energy currently serving demand, and CO2 trends by day and resource type.

The ISO added a supply trend graph to its Today’s Outlook page to include all resources. In addition, the Going Green page now has a real-time renewables data and pie chart, along with a table reflecting total installed renewables to give a clear picture of renewables meeting demand compared to installed renewables.

The Managing Oversupply page was updated with an interactive chart for wind and solar curtailments by month.

The ISO rounded out its website improvements by adding new training modules available to the general public, expanding on an existing library of computer-based training (CBT) sessions about wholesale energy markets and power grid operations.

Now, anyone – including reporters, legislators, stakeholders and potential market participants – can get a clear understanding of power generation, transmission, wholesale energy pricing, and delivery in the western US. The library also has sessions explaining the role of independent system operators; day-ahead and real-time markets; the Western Energy Imbalance Market; and the Congestion Revenue Rights auction.

Visit the Learning Center to see all training offerings.

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