- North American Electric Reliability Coordinator (NERC) President and CEO Jim Robb said Wednesday that the organization is prioritizing the certification of smaller western reliability coordinators (RC) for the start of 2020, when the massive RC Peak Reliability dissolves.
- The California ISO (CAISO) is already certified for western RC services, and NERC will certify Southwest Power Pool and Grid Force as well. The Canada-based Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) and BC Hydro will go through effectively the same review as the other RCs, in compliance with their own nation's standards.
- "The RC transition in the Western Interconnection... is probably the single largest risk of reliability in front of us, and I still believe that that's true," Robb told reporters at a media roundtable.
NERC is focused on certifying RCs by the end of the year or close to Jan. 1, when Peak Reliability dissolves.
"We have a transition going from effectively one RC for the West to five," Robb said.
"It's definitely an improvement for reliability coordination and the western interconnection," Daniel Skees, an electric utility attorney and Morgan Lewis partner, told Utility Dive. "In an electric geography that's as huge as the Western Interconnection...splitting it up into more focused areas, under multiple reliability coordinators, is probably a superior approach from a reliability perspective."
CAISO's RC services will expand to the bulk of the Western interconnection beginning in September, Robb said. NERC is also working to certify SPP "for the front range of the Rockies." Grid Force's prospective certification would offer RC services for its footprint, which runs across multiple NERC sub-regions.
"One of our focuses is making sure that they're certified, but then also ensuring and measuring ourselves that they've got all the right data sharing and information sharing protocols so that they can function seamlessly across the footprint," Robb said.
"I think the test case, of course, will come when there's a significant system disturbance in the West," Skees said. "And we'll see how the reliability coordinators respond to that, particularly [if it] affects multiple reliability coordinator areas."
After the new RCs are certified, NERC will be actively monitoring their performance.
SPP announced earlier this month that it will move ahead with the development of a Western Energy Imbalance Service (WEIS) market, providing another alternative to CAISO's imbalance market. The WEIS market would operate alongside the RC service that SPP plans to offer in December.