As more renewable capacity comes online, utilities need to take steps to efficiently deliver that power over the grid. Some parts of the country are farther along than others in meeting that challenge.
To that end, utilities in the Southeast recently announced their plans for a new trading market for the region.
Multiple outlets have reported that several Southeast utilities are considering a plan to create a centralized and automated 15-minute energy transmission market for utilities in their region. The new market would supplement the existing system of bilateral energy exchanges across utility-owned transmission networks. Utility participation would be voluntary.
Creating the market would help the Southeast catch up to other regions in the nation that already operate under a centralized, interstate transmission exchange, such as the Southwest Power Pool and the California ISO.
The market could help participating utilities manage the increase of power generated by renewable sources and lower wholesale energy costs.
The Charlotte Business Journal and Greentech Media both have reported on the plan, which emerged from talks surrounding North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s 2018 Executive Order 80. That action was intended to reduce greenhouse gas emission, increase the number of zero emission vehicles, reduce energy consumption and a number of other goals related to climate change.
In describing the proposed Southeast market, proponents have pointed to the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) as an example.
Run by the California Independent System Operator, the EIM is a real-time wholesale energy trading market for participating utilities in the Western United States. In April of this year, the EIM reported generating $57.9 million in first-quarter gross benefits, and $919.69 million in gross benefits since its inception in 2014.
The EIM saves money by allowing participants to buy and sell power close to the time electricity is consumed and giving system operators real-time visibility across neighboring grids.