Recent Press Releases and Updates
The committee tasked with laying the groundwork for an independent Western RTO confronts a complex set of challenges on an ambitious timeline as it seeks to help CAISO outpace SPP in the contest to organize the region’s electricity market.
Chief among the challenges: raising the money needed to finance the effort, which a group of Western state utility commissioners kicked off in July to boost the prospects of establishing a single RTO that pointedly includes California. The commissioners proposed the plan just as SPP’s Market+ day-ahead market offering began making headway against CAISO’s Extended Day-Ahead Market. (See Regulators Propose New Independent Western RTO.)
Stakeholders from across the Western electricity sector say they see renewed potential for developing a more organized regional market through the open-ended process offered by the West-Wide Governance Pathway Initiative.
But many of them also caution the initiative must become more transparent, both in its processes and its sources of funding.
Those were two of the key takeaways from stakeholder comments filed in response to questions in an Aug. 29 letter circulated by the backers of the initiative, who are seeking to quickly work through “Phase 1” of the effort to define a governance framework and seat a founding board of directors by next January. (See Backers of Independent Western RTO Seek to Move Quickly.)
It’s hot outside, with no signs of cooling off. In the past week, the West has experienced a tropical storm and record heat — threatening multiple states with energy blackouts. This extreme weather continues to demonstrate the urgency for shoring up our energy systems across the region. The only way to reliably keep the lights on is if states across the region can work together to strengthen the energy grid. The good news is that collaboration across states is proven to work and there is a swell of momentum moving in the right direction.
That momentum will only grow stronger and more visible this week as the Extended Day-Ahead Market forum brings together energy leaders from across the West in Las Vegas. As energy industry leaders and advocates in the West, we’re excited about this forum for a particular reason: For the first time, a California Independent System Operator event is happening outside of California and in-person. The co-hosts include CAISO, NV Energy, Pacificorp, Balancing Authority of Northern California and Southern California Edison — a strong signal that these leaders understand both the urgency and the benefits of working together.
When state lawmakers and Governor Gavin Newsom enacted a more ambitious timeline last year for transitioning our economy to clean energy, they prompted a reckoning.
Even as California has made great strides and raised the bar on climate action, it has not adequately planned for our long-term energy needs. Now we are at a turning point. We need a plan to reach the state’s new clean energy targets of 90 percent by 2035 and 95 percent by 2040 on the road to 100 percent by 2045.
Big picture thinking is needed to unleash California’s clean energy potential. By working with other states, we can build an energy grid capable of producing the affordable, reliable clean power we need.
The climate won’t wait and neither should we. Scientists conclude this decade is our best chance to protect Californians from the most dangerous impacts of climate change – extreme heat, drought and wildfires, along with harmful pollution. We can build our way out of crisis but it requires developing clean energy at unprecedented scale. It took 100 years to build California’s energy system. Reinventing it in just over 20 years requires a plan to match the task.
Unfortunately, California is scrambling.
An announcement from five Western states could launch a new regional grid manager.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is pursuing a new strategy to share electricity across the West after repeated legislative efforts failed.
Leaders of California’s Energy and Public Utilities commissions signed onto a letter with counterparts in Washington, Oregon, Arizona and New Mexico on Friday announcing a plan to form a new nonprofit that could eventually manage power across state lines. The letter is addressed to the Western Interstate Energy Board, an organization created to coordinate power sharing and nuclear waste management across 11 states and two Canadian provinces.
The competition for organized markets in the West grew Friday, as the Bonneville Power Administration launched a process to choose between day-ahead markets proposed by CAISO and SPP, and regulators from five Western states urged the establishment of a new, independent RTO covering the entire West.
“This group proposes the creation of an entity that could serve as a means for delivering a market that includes all states in the Western Interconnection, including California, with independent governance,” regulators from Arizona, California, New Mexico Oregon and Washington wrote to the chairs of the Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB) and the Committee on Regional Electric Power Cooperation (CREPC).
The entity “could provide a full range of regional transmission operator services, utilizing a contract for services” with CAISO including eventual “assumption” of CAISO’s proposed Extended Day Ahead Market (EDAM) and its real-time Western Energy Imbalance Market (WEIM).
As the Southwest Power Pool’s efforts to expand its footprint into the West begin to gain traction, some experts in California are concerned that the state could find itself isolated, and potentially lose access to renewable energy resources and power imports that are critical to the state’s electric grid.
The West is one of the regions of the country that doesn’t have a regional transmission organization, and conversations around creating one have been ongoing for over two decades. Currently, 22 entities in the region participate in the California Independent System Operator’s real-time wholesale energy trading market — the Western Energy Imbalance Market — and the grid operator is setting up a voluntary extended day-ahead market, or EDAM, as well. The grid operator expects to begin onboarding EDAM participants in early 2025, with PacifiCorp as the first entity to move to implementation.
As the pillar of California’s economy, Silicon Valley is home to the innovative companies and world-class institutions that drive the clean energy and frontier technology solutions of the future. Yet without establishing access to reliable and affordable clean energy sources that we can turn to during extreme weather events or other periods of record demand, we’re jeopardizing the competitiveness of our region and putting the state’s vital climate goals at risk.
That’s why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents the innovation economy and its ecosystem, is joining with key business and clean-energy stakeholders in support of the Lights On California initiative. Together we’re advocating for solutions that will enable California to plan for the long term and overcome challenges to scaling the clean-energy supply we need to realize priorities such as transportation electrification and powering the data centers that are the backbone of cloud-based industries.
Two years ago, the Texas power grid failed and a massive blackout ensued, causing 246 deaths and nearly $130 billion in damages. This occurred not only due to a lack of preparedness but because Texas is an isolated “energy island” where it has a limited ability to import electricity beyond its own borders.
California could face a similar fate if our state does not take action to become part of a regional transmission organization. RTOs oversee electricity markets that make energy bills more affordable, enable more clean energy to come online faster and enhance grid reliability. Seven RTOs cover nearly half the United States and two-thirds of the nation’s energy sales. But there is no RTO in the West.
Expanding California’s electricity grid to cooperate with neighboring states would bolster reliability and affordability while reducing carbon emissions, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy concluded in a new report.
The report released Monday said California would both maintain jurisdiction over energy rates and stay on track to meet its clean energy goals as nearby states such as Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington strive to meet theirs.
My first job, in high school, was writing software for the entity that controls the power grid in the Northwest. It was an amazing learning experience. We were computerizing the grid, and I got to work with some top-notch programmers. But when I would tell people about my job, I’d often get blank stares. The power grid just wasn’t something many people thought about back then.
That’s no longer the case these days. Extreme weather events have made a lot more people aware of power grids—and how they can fail. Two years ago in Texas, the local grid failed after three winter storms in a row. Hundreds of people died, and millions were without power for days. And just last month, extreme cold across the United States once again pushed power grids to the brink.
As California rapidly boosts sales of electric cars and trucks over the next decade, the answer to a critical question remains uncertain: Will there be enough electricity to power them?
State officials claim that the 12.5 million electric vehicles expected on California’s roads in 2035 will not strain the grid. But their confidence that the state can avoid brownouts relies on a best-case — some say unrealistic — scenario: massive and rapid construction of offshore wind and solar farms, and drivers charging their cars in off-peak hours.