California’s participation in a growing network of power utilities and operators in the western U.S. called the Energy Imbalance Market yielded savings of $12 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, state power officials said Monday.
A portion of those savings is expected to be passed on to Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric customers, said Steven Greenlee, spokesman for the California Independent System Operator, the nonprofit that oversees the state’s bulk electric power system.
California’s participation in the Energy Imbalance Market allows transfers of power from other participating entities in the West, with that power bought at lower cost. The California ISO manages the flow of electricity across the high-voltage, long-distance power lines that make up 80 percent of California’s and some of Nevada’s power grid.
As a result of the market, utilities and operators can opt to avoid relying on extra stores of power to meet the system’s fluctuating power needs. Participation in the market also lets California avoid asking producers of renewable energy to power down because of oversupply. “If we have an overabundance of solar energy in Southern California, we can now send it to the Pacific Northwest,” Greenlee said.
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The total avoided energy reduction for the fourth quarter was 17,573 megawatt hours, with the equivalent of 7,521 metric tons of carbon emissions avoided because that power would likely have to be generated elsewhere in a non-renewable setting.
To date, the market also includes Pacific Corp., which oversees power transmission in six states, and NV Energy, the operator of transmissions networks in Nevada. The market is set to expand with Puget Sound Energy and Arizona Public Service joining in October, and Portland General in October of 2017, Greenlee said.
Editor’s note: The headline on this story was changed Feb. 6 to reflect the $12 million savings.
Edward Ortiz: 916-321-1071, @edwardortiz