California ISO, MidAmerican cite progress on ‘imbalance’ market

MidAmerican Energy Holdings (MEH) CEO Greg Abel and California Independent System Operator CEO Steve Berberich said Oct. 23 that they are confident the so-called Energy Imbalance Market will start operation as planned in October 2014.

“We remain focused on that date,” and feel good about it, Abel said during a conference call with reporters. “We have made excellent progress,” Abel said.  

MidAmerican subsidiary PacifiCorp and the Cal ISO announced formation of the energy imbalance market in February. The partnership would add PacifiCorp’s two balancing authorities, covering parts of six states, to the existing EIM run by the ISO within California.

The partnership between the two largest transmission grids in the West is meant to improve the sharing of energy resources. Organizers tout the alliance as key unlocking economic dispatch of diverse power supplies across a wider geographic region.

The sponsors have pointed to one study that predicts EIM benefits to PacifiCorp and the ISO could range from $21m to $129m in 2017.

An EIM is an automated tool that aims to balance fluctuations in renewable generation and demand.

While the rules are complicated, renewable power imported through this imbalance market “will generally count” toward California’s stringent 33% renewable power standard, Berberich said.

The ISO officials said “exploratory’ discussions have occurred involving the Bonneville Power Administrative (BPA) and Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), as well as other entities, about potential participation in the imbalance market.

That’s not to say that everybody is enthused about the idea. A couple of U.S. House of Representatives members from Washington and Oregon have suggested that the costs of participation could outweigh the benefits for BPA and WAPA.

The California ISO and PacifiCorp hope to create a “real time” imbalance market by October 2014.

The parties have been holding extensive stakeholder discussions over issues like the degree of “independence” that market participants will retain.

MidAmerican is part of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A; BRK-B). MidAmerican is also in the process of acquiring NV Energy (NYSE:NVE).

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.