Idaho Power decides to join Western EIM, with participation to begin in April 2018

Idaho Power and the California ISO (Cal-ISO) have signed an agreement for Idaho Power to join the Western energy imbalance market, contingent upon the needed regulatory approvals, Cal-ISO and Idaho Power said in a joint statement April 6.

Idaho Power became the sixth utility to announce plans to join the EIM, which is administered by the Cal-ISO. Current EIM members are PacifiCorp and NV Energy, while Puget Sound Energy and Arizona Public Service, a subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital (NYSE:PNW), plan to begin participating in the market in October.

Portland General Electric (NYSE:POR) plans to begin EIM operations in October 2017, and Idaho Power intends to join the market in April 2018, according to the joint statement.

The Western EIM was launched by the Cal-ISO and PacifiCorp on Nov. 1, 2014, as a way to balance supply and demand in multiple balancing authority areas in the West and enhance efficiency in the dispatch of generation to meet demand, including improved access to renewable resources in several states.

A subsidiary of IDACORP (NYSE:IDA), Idaho Power has been considering joining the EIM since September 2015, when it withdrew from an effort led by the Northwest Power Pool (NWPP) to form a voluntary generation dispatch market in that region. The NWPP group ended that plan earlier this year.

Based on the results of a benefits study, participation in the EIM could result in efficiencies that translate into cost savings for Idaho Power customers, the utility and the Cal-ISO said. Expected benefits include lower production costs, better visibility of system operations in the West and improved integration of renewable resources.

“We are looking forward to participating in the western EIM,” Lisa Grow, senior vice president of operations at Idaho Power, said in the statement. “We believe it will facilitate increased reliability for the electric system and anticipate economic savings to our customers through lower production costs.”

Idaho Power also is looking forward to working with the EIM Governing Body, currently being established through a nomination process, and other forums so that state regulators and stakeholders in the region can actively and publicly engage in EIM-related decisions, the utility said.

“We believe that Idaho Power joining the western EIM will prove to be a significantly positive move for the utility and its customers, along with current market participants,” said Steve Berberich, CEO and president of the Cal-ISO.

Berberich said: “The market already has proven itself to increase network efficiency, lower costs, and encourage cleaner energy into the power grid. With each new entrant, the market will only multiply those benefits.”

PacifiCorp and NV Energy are subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.