NERC certifies CAISO as reliability coordinator in the West

The North American Energy Reliability Corporation (NERC) has certified that the California Independent System Operator can act as reliability coordinator for electricity balancing authorities in Western states and part of Mexico beginning July 1.

The California ISO will replace the former reliability coordinator, Peak Reliability, which in July 2018 said it would cease operation at the end of 2019.

All ISOs and regional transmission organizations have a reliability coordinator that is responsible for overseeing operations and reliability on a regional basis. Reliability coordinators, which report to NERC, hold the highest level of authority for grid operations and reliability. Reliability coordinators can authorize measures to prevent or mitigate system emergencies in day-ahead or real-time operations and provide leadership in system restoration in the wake of a major event.

CAISO has said it would save money by being its own reliability coordinator. It will also offer reliability coordinator services to other entities in the Western Interconnection.

CAISO has been tracking and mirroring the reliability coordination provided by Peak Reliability since May 1. On July 1, the ISO will offer its services through a separate unit, RC West, which will become the reliability coordinator for 16 balancing authorities and transmission operators in California, including one in northern Mexico.

In November, following additional review by NERC and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, the ISO anticipates that RC West will become the reliability coordinator for an additional 24 entities in the Western Interconnection, which would give RC West reliability oversight for 87% of electricity load in the Western Interconnection.

The ISO says it has finalized agreements with 39 of the balancing authorities and transmission organizations in the Western Connection. That list includes several public power entities.

Balancing authorities are each responsible for maintaining the balance of supply and demand of electric service within their regions.

Separately, CAISO operates the expanding Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), a real-time bulk power trading market that would serve the Western United States.

The ISO launched the EIM in 2014 and now has nine active members and eight pending members. In March, the Turlock Irrigation District’s Board of Directors voted in favor of joining the EIM. In its most recent benefits report, for first quarter 2019, the California ISO said cost savings in the EIM real-time market totaled $650 million since the 2014 launch.


The Southwest Power Pool last summer said that it planned to offer reliability coordination services in the western U.S., specifically the Western Interconnection, starting in late 2019. SPP noted that it had indicated its intent to serve as a reliability coordinator in the west in letters to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council and NERC.

Several public power utilities in the West subsequently agreed to receive RC services from the SPP.

In April, SPP called on interested utilities and other customers to join in the design and implementation of an energy imbalance market in the West.