Electricity Markets

CAISO launches expanded reliability coordinator services

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) on Nov. 1 launched its expanded reliability coordinator (RC) services, called RC West, making it the RC of record for 41 entities across 14 western states and northern Mexico.

RC West now has oversight of power grid reliability for balancing authorities and transmission operators in the Western Interconnection, monitoring compliance for 87 percent of the load in the western U.S., CAISO noted.

In July, RC West became the RC provider of record for 16 electricity balancing authorities and transmission operators, primarily in California, and one in Mexico.

RC West includes the following public power entities:

  • Balancing Authority of Northern California (Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Western Area Power Administration Sierra Nevada Region, Modesto Irrigation District)
  • Bonneville Power Administration-Transmission (PUD No. 1 Snohomish County, Washington)
  • City & County of San Francisco (Hetch Hetchy)
  • Silicon Valley
  • PUD No. 1 Chelan County, Washington
  • PUD No. 1 Douglas County, Washington
  • PUD No. 2 Grant County, Washington
  • Imperial Irrigation District
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
  • Seattle City Light
  • Salt River Project
  • Turlock Irrigation District
  • Tacoma Power

An RC has the highest level of authority and responsibility for the reliable operation of power grids and has wide visibility of bulk electric systems. RC West monitors the interconnected power grids in the West for compliance with federal and regional standards, determines measures to prevent or mitigate system emergencies in day-ahead or real-time operations and leads system restoration following major incidents.

In January 2018, the ISO announced plans to become an RC for entities within its footprint and to offer the service to all balancing authorities and transmission operators in the West. The previous RC service provider, Peak RC, is winding down services, and will cease operations by the end of 2019.

Since then, CAISO has worked with participants, regulators, and other RC service providers to achieve certification from the Western Electricity Coordinating Council and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. and develop procedures for operations.

During a public stakeholder initiative, the RC services’ rate design, terms and conditions were finalized, and approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in November 2018.

An RC West Oversight Committee was formed to provide guidance and build consensus on compliance. The committee, made up of representatives from all entities taking services, adopted a charter and now holds regular public meetings.

SPP also offers reliability coordination services

In June 2018, the Southwest Power Pool said that it planned to offer reliability coordination services in the western U.S., specifically the Western Interconnection, starting in late 2019.

In September 2018, SPP said that several public power utilities in the West agreed to receive reliability RC services from the grid operator.

Colorado-based Platte River Power Authority, Colorado Springs Utilities and the City of Farmington, New Mexico, a public power community, committed to receive reliability coordination services from SPP. SPP also noted it would provide such services to several Western Area Power Administration regions.