- Plans are moving ahead on incorporating the PacifiCorp utilities, the West’s second biggest transmission system, into the California grid, the region's biggest system run by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). The LA Times reports that a bill to do so could be filed before the legislative session ends in mid-September.
- The integrated system would allow for the sharing of generation between PacifiCorp’s six states and 1.8 million customers, and CAISO's 30 million customers across California and a small part of Nevada.
- Bringing PacifiCorp into CAISO operations is expected to open new markets for California’s growing supply of renewables. Though skeptical environmentalists fear California could end up importing PacifiCorp’s fossil fuel-generated electricity, an integrated system is expected to reduce coal use, as the 9-month old Energy Imbalance Market between the two systems has done.
The integration of PacifiCorp as the ISO’s 17th transmission-owning member was set in motion by a memorandum of understanding signed in April. The MOU set up a joint feasibility study of the plan to incorporate the Warren Buffett-owned regulated utilities into the only competitive wholesale market in the West. The cost-benefit study is currently being completed by Energy + Environmental Economics (E3).
Because the integration of PacifiCorp would require approval by California lawmakers, the ISO and PacifiCorp are helping draft language that would theoretically be brought before the state legislature before the current session closes in mid-September.
Since the November 2014 initiation of the Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), a limited market that allows CAISO and PacifiCorp to balance their systems through shared resources, the two grids have jointly benefited by over $21 million, reduced the curtailment of renewables, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Nevada’s Valley Electric Association and the City of Colton, CA, became the fifteenth and sixteenth transmission owning members of CAISO in January 2013. The addition of PacifiCorp would add customers in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and part of Northern California.