NWPP market initiative ends amid expansion of Western EIM

An effort by the Northwest Power Pool (NWPP) to form a voluntary generation dispatch market in the region has ended due to the growing number of members interested in joining the Western energy imbalance market (EIM), an NWPP Members’ Market Assessment and Coordination Committee (MC) representative told TransmissionHub March 16.

The NWPP MC had been planning to develop a centrally cleared energy dispatch market that would have been overseen by an independent market administrator, with a platform for 15-minute trading at a single market-clearing price. The NWPP MC effort was to form a voluntary market as an alternative to the EIM that is administered by the California ISO (Cal-ISO), and it filed a petition for a declaratory order with FERC on Sept. 4, 2015, to address threshold issues on the development of an energy market since many members are exempt from FERC jurisdiction.

Entities participating in the NWPP MC market effort include Tacoma Public Utilities, Bonneville Power Administration, Avista (NYSE:AVA), Portland General Electric (NYSE:POR) (PGE), Idaho Power, a subsidiary of IDACORP (NYSE:IDA), Puget Sound Energy (PSE), the Balancing Authority of Northern California, The City of Seattle, City Light Dept. (Seattle City Light), Northwestern Corp.’s (NYSE:NEW) NorthWestern Energy, Turlock Irrigation District, Western Area Power Administration, Upper Great Plains, some public utility districts and others.

PSE had already been planning on joining the EIM, but shortly after the Sept. 4, 2015, filing at FERC, PGE and Idaho Power withdrew from the NWPP MC effort to focus on whether to join the EIM. PGE has since made the decision to join the EIM and Idaho Power in late 2015 said it expected to reach a decision in 1Q16.

“We still expect to make a decision in the first quarter of 2016,” an Idaho Power spokesperson said March 16.

When the NWPP MC group filed its petition at FERC (Docket No. EL15-100), it said the effort was designed to build on the long-standing success of bilateral markets in the region by providing participants with a greater ability to buy and sell energy in a sub-hourly market.

Work on the development of a sub-hourly market ended earlier this year, according to the NWPP MC representative, Robert Cromwell, who is also director of power contracts, resource acquisition and regional affairs at Seattle City Light.

“The NWPP MC process formally concluded in January,” Cromwell said.

The group filed with FERC on Jan. 29 to withdraw the petition for a declaratory order, but it did not give a reason.

Cromwell confirmed that the growing interest of a number of NWPP MC participants in joining the EIM “was a material factor in ending the Northwest’s exploration of alternatives to the EIM.”

The EIM balances supply and demand in multiple balancing authority areas in the West and enhances efficiency in the dispatch of generation to meet demand, including improved access to renewable resources in several states, the Cal-ISO has said. Since its formation in 2014, with the Cal-ISO and PacifiCorp as members, the EIM has added NV Energy as a participant in December 2015, and PSE, along with Arizona Public Service, a subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital (NYSE:PNW), have announced plans to join the market.

PacifiCorp and NV Energy are subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.