Electricity Markets

Colorado Springs Utilities, Platte River to join CAISO Western EIM

Colorado Springs Utilities, Platte River Power Authority, Xcel Energy and Black Hills Colorado Electric on Dec. 17 said that they plan to join the Western Energy Imbalance Market (WEIM) operated by the California Independent System Operator.

While the four have different business models, customers and geography, all share a commitment to leading the clean energy transition and believe the WEIM will provide the most benefit to their collective Colorado customers, they noted in a news release.

Earlier this year, Colorado Springs Utilities, Platte River Power Authority, Xcel Energy and Black Hills Colorado Electric commissioned the Brattle Group to study CAISO’s WEIM and the Western Energy Imbalance Service (WEIS) proposed by the Southwest Power Pool.

The study concluded that as the larger of the two markets, the WEIM offers greater potential to lower production costs due to the size of its market footprint and the diverse resources available within the WEIM. The WEIM also offers lower administrative costs and participants of the WEIM are exploring adding day-ahead market services. Day-ahead market services are designed to help utilities plan which resources they will use to generate energy, allowing more renewables to be integrated into the system, the utilities said.

Currently, Xcel Energy, Black Hills Colorado Electric and Platte River Power Authority share resources and balance demand for electricity through a joint dispatch agreement that has reduced costs for customers. In March 2020, Colorado Springs Utilities will begin participation in this joint dispatch agreement. Joining the WEIM will allow the group to exchange energy with an even larger group of neighboring utilities and help integrate more clean energy into their systems.

“We’ve created excellent partnerships though the JDA that currently provide great value to our owner communities,” said Jason Frisbie, general manager and CEO of Platte River Power Authority. “Joining an EIM will expand the regional collaboration among all partners to the benefit of every Colorado customer we serve.”

"We are committed to offering our customers clean, more diverse and affordable energy," said Aram Benyamin, Colorado Springs Utilities CEO. "This regional partnership provides us the opportunity to integrate more renewable energy into our system at a lower cost.”

Over the next few months, the group will be working with the ISO to finalize the implementation agreement and settle on a potential date to join the market, with a target of 2021.

Platte River Power Authority is a not-for-profit wholesale electricity generation and transmission provider that delivers energy and services to its owner communities of Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, Colorado for delivery to their utility customers.

Colorado Springs Utilities provides electricity, natural gas, water and wastewater services to the Pikes Peak region of Colorado.

Xcel Energy and Black Hills Colorado Electric are investor-owned utilities.

California grid operator launched Western EIM in 2014

CAISO launched its Western EIM in 2014 and the market’s first participant was Oregon-based PacifiCorp. Las Vegas-based NV Energy followed on Dec. 1, 2015, Puget Sound Energy of Bellevue, Washington, and Arizona Public Service of Phoenix, Arizona, on Oct. 1, 2016, Portland General Electric on Nov. 1, 2017, and Idaho Power and Powerex of Vancouver, British Columbia on Apr. 4, 2018.

CAISO earlier this year announced that Sacramento Municipal Utility District, part of the Balancing Authority of Northern California, successfully began full participation in the Western EIM.

Other entities scheduled to begin participation include Seattle City Light, and Arizona’s Salt River Project in 2020; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Albuquerque, N.M.-based Public Service Company of New Mexico, Northwestern Energy of Butte, Montana, and California’s Turlock Irrigation District in 2021; Washington State-based Avista, Tacoma Power, Tucson Electric Power, and the Bonneville Power Administration in 2022. The second phase of the Balancing Authority of Northern California EIM participation will also begin in 2021 and will include the Western Area Power Administration Sierra Nevada region, Modesto Irrigation District, and the Cities of Redding and Roseville.

Wyoming, Neb. public power entities join SPP Western market

In related news, the Wyoming Municipal Energy Agency (WMPA) and Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) will be participants of SPP’s WEIS Market when it launches in February 2021, SPP said on Dec. 12.

WMPA is the wholesale electricity provider for 8 public power communities in Wyoming. Created in 1981, MEAN provides cost-based power supply, transmission and related services to 69 participating communities in four states: Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and the Western Area Power Administration previously announced their decisions to join the WEIS.