BPA takes next step to join Western Energy Imbalance Market

Illustration credit Western Energy Imbalance Market

By Elizabeth Ingram, Hydro Review content director

After more than three years of review and analysis, the Bonneville Power Administration announced it has decided to join the Western Energy Imbalance Market in March 2022.

“This decision aligns with Bonneville’s strategic plan and opens up an opportunity to increase revenues through additional sales of surplus power and to reduce costs through greater efficiencies,” said BPA Administrator John Hairston. “As the West moves rapidly to decarbonize the grid, Western EIM participation will help us navigate future challenges and leverage opportunities to benefit our customers and the Northwest.”

BPA will now sign a Western EIM Entity Agreement, as well as the remaining participation agreements with the California Independent System Operator. The California ISO will file the signed agreements with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval. BPA plans to begin its final testing stage – parallel operations – on Dec. 1, 2021.

BPA is currently completing the work to implement new systems and processes to enable participation in the Western EIM beginning March 2022. Internal preparations are on track, and testing with the ISO has already begun.https://ebe6e9df8516f20dfddfc4766c7dabb0.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

BPA will continue to hold implementation workshops to work through changes for customers, which will include informal and formal settlements training, and provide updates on BPA’s implementation efforts. 

The federal utility’s generation fleet is 100 percent carbon free, as BPA owns and operates hydropower from 31 dams in the Pacific Northwest and also markets power from the region’s only nuclear power plant.

Western EIM participation is expected to further enhance the value of the Northwest’s federal power and transmission system. “Western EIM participation is a great introduction to emerging markets in the West,” said Hairston. “We hope to build on this experience to assess future market-based opportunities.” 

The Western EIM was created to improve balancing supply and demand across the region. It allows participants to buy and sell power among each other and close to the time the electricity is consumed.

As BPA assessed participation in the Western EIM, discussions about other industry improvements and market opportunities also emerged. BPA plans to take part in the development of other markets and opportunities and will make decisions about its participation in these efforts through additional public processes.

One such opportunity is the Western Resource Adequacy Program organized by the Northwest Power Pool. BPA proposed in a draft decision posted Aug. 20 to participate in the next non-binding phase of this effort, Phase 3A, in which parties will test the design concepts, determine the program’s viability and shape its final design. This is a first step at establishing common resource adequacy measurements and definitions.

In addition, BPA is monitoring the potential formation of day-ahead markets in the West. Both the California ISO and Southwest Power Pool have presented initial concepts that could provide additional opportunities and benefits for BPA and its customers.

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