Valley Electric CEO: Western US needs ‘regionalization’

Valley Electric of Pahrump, Nev., has been approved to join the California ISO (Cal-ISO) as a participating transmission member, making it the first Nevada-based utility to join the ISO.

The ISO’s board of governors Sept. 13 unanimously approved applications from Valley Electric Association (VEA) and its wholly owned subsidiary Valley Electric Transmission Association, and the city of Colton, Calif. The utilities will integrate into the ISO in January.

VEA’s CEO sees his organization’s acceptance as a key step toward greater regional cooperation, which he says will benefit customers across the West.

“Regionalization of the West is something that all utilities need to be looking at,” Thomas Husted told TransmissionHub Sept. 14. “We believe that will expand the markets, allow for more efficient operation of the existing transmission facilities, improve planning processes, and the integration and utilization of not only existing but planned generation.”

The utility currently has approximately 350 miles of 230-kV and 138-kV transmission, and is in the permitting process to add approximately 60 miles of 500-kV line to serve planned renewable generation, Husted said. The utility currently has about 1,500 MW of renewable generation in its 6,800 square mile service territory.

Valley Electric has two interconnection points to the Cal-ISO grid: the Mead and Mohave substations, according to the Cal-ISO.

The grid operator’s board also voted to allow the city of Colton, Calif., to become part of the ISO. Colton has operated its own municipal utility since 1895 and currently serves 19,000 customers. The utility has a peak load of 90 MW and owns diverse generation resources in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, according to the Cal-ISO.

“Becoming a participating transmission owner allows Colton to acquire transmission access to new renewable resources in California and the Southwest necessary to meet California’s green power goals,” Colton general manager David Kolk said in a statement announcing the approvals.

Upon execution of a transmission control agreement, the utilities become participating transmission owners, subject to FERC’s acceptance of their transmission owner tariffs and transmission revenue requirements.