Turlock Irrigation District last week officially began participating in the West’s first real-time bulk power trading market, the California Independent System Operator’s Western Energy Imbalance Market.
Since its launch in 2014, the Western EIM has provided more than $1.18 billion in economic and environmental benefits using state-of-the-art technology that finds and delivers low-cost energy to meet real-time demand.
TID and the Balancing Area of Northern California Phase 2, comprised of the Modesto Irrigation District, the cities of Redding and Roseville and the Western Area Power Administration, Sierra Nevada Region, began participating in the Western EIM on Thursday, joining other entities from states like Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona and Nevada, to name a few.
By 2023, the 22 participating EIM entities will represent over 83 percent of the load within the Western Electricity Coordinating Council’s footprint.
“As participants in the EIM, we have the opportunity to further capitalize on the generation infrastructure TID has developed over the years,” TID General Manager Michelle Reimers said.
The EIM allows participants to buy and sell power close to the time electricity is consumed, and gives system operators real-time visibility across neighboring grids. The result improves balancing supply and demand at a lower cost. The EIM manages congestion on transmission lines to maintain grid reliability and supports integrating renewable resources and also makes excess renewable energy available to participating utilities at low cost, rather than turning the generating units off.
More specifically, regional coordination in generating and delivering energy produces significant benefits in three main areas:
• Reduced costs for participants by lowering the amount of costly reserves utilities need to carry, and more efficient use of the regional transmission system.
• Reduced carbon emission and more efficient use and integration of renewable energy. For instance, when one utility area has excess hydroelectric, solar or wind power, the ISO can deliver it to customers in California or to another participant. Likewise, when the ISO has excess solar energy, it can help meet demand outside of California that otherwise would be met by more expensive – and less clean – energy resources.
• Enhanced reliability by increasing operational visibility across electricity grids, and improving the ability to manage transmission line congestion across the region’s high-voltage transmission system.
TID employs a diversified portfolio of electric resources comprised of different types of generation methods, locations and fuel sources to meet customer energy needs. Few people realize that power is bought and sold around the clock at the District’s headquarters in Turlock and, depending on the cost of power in the energy markets, TID may purchase power or sell excess power to users across the Western United States.
Contracts for the purchase of energy may be made years, months and weeks in advance, and all are reviewed daily and hourly by members of the TID Trading & Scheduling Department to adjust agreements in order to make sure customers have the power they need at the lowest cost. As part of the EIM, these opportunities become honed to even more immediate adjustments.
TID’s participation in the Western EIM enables the District to economically balance supply and demand within the market area in real-time by scheduling power deliveries every 5 minutes.
“The Western EIM will provide TID with access to a wider market and allow us to optimize our resources on a more granular scale,” said TID Assistant General Manager, Power Supply, Dan Severson.
The cost for TID to join the Western EIM is expected to be approximately $5.9 million. Estimated cost savings realized by joining the Western EIM are expected to recoup the start-up costs in less than three years. By maximizing economic gains, TID will be able to manage costs and continue to keep customer rates competitively priced.
“We are very pleased to welcome the Turlock Irrigation District to the family of the Western EIM entities,” said ISO CEO and President Elliot Mainzer. “The Turlock Irrigation District’s decision to participate demonstrates the economic and environmental value offered by the Western EIM and enables them to realize greater efficiency and diversity offered in the real-time energy market.”