Colorado's Platte River Power Authority, Xcel Energy-Colorado and Black Hills Colorado Electric on Jan. 25 announced plans today to join the Western Energy Imbalance Service (WEIS) Market, operated by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).
Platte River, based in Fort Collins, and the two investor-owned utilities expect to join the WEIS in April 2023 and will continue to study long-term solutions for joining or developing an organized wholesale market.
An energy imbalance market is a real-time market in which energy generation from multiple power providers is dispatched at the lowest possible cost to reliably serve the combined customer demand of the region.
“Joining the WEIS will expand the benefits we gained from the joint dispatch agreement (JDA) on behalf of our owner communities,” said Jason Frisbie, general manager and CEO of Platte River, in a statement. “We’ve created excellent partnerships through the JDA that currently provide great value to our customers. Moving into an energy imbalance market brings Platte River one step closer to a noncarbon energy future.”
Xcel Energy-Colorado currently operates under a JDA that enables sharing generation between Platte River, Black Hills Colorado Electric and public power utility Colorado Springs Utilities within its Balancing Authority Area.
The group explored participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market operated by the California Independent System Operator as well as the WEIS operated by SPP.
Xcel Energy took a step back from joining the Western Energy Imbalance Market last year after one of its energy partners joined the WEIS.
After further analysis, the group decided the best interim option was to move into the WEIS due to geographic diversity and existing interconnections. The utilities’ participation in the WEIS will replace the JDA and is expected to bring additional production cost savings to customers.
The three organizations remain committed to evaluating a longer term and broader regional market structure that will ensure system reliability and improve the integration of wind and solar energy on the system.
In October, they announced participation in the Western Markets Exploratory Group (WMEG) and are committed to working with the WMEG to evaluate different market options that reduce costs, increase reliability, and help promote their strategies to create a carbon free electricity system.
Participants in the WMEG will consider market structures that expand on energy imbalance markets and will evaluate broader market designs for the western region, including a staged approach to new market services, to see if those designs can enhance their ability to provide clean, reliable and low-cost energy service to their customers.
The agreement to join the WEIS still requires approval through appropriate regulatory processes.