New report: Western EIM has delivered over $250 million in benefits, benefits up 144% from 2015 to 2016

November 27, 2017

Western Energy Imbalance Market Has Delivered Over $250 Million In Benefits

Annual Benefits Projected to Grow Another 55% This Year With Addition of Portland General Electric

PORTLAND – The economic benefits of the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) continue to increase as more utilities join, according to a new report released today by Portland-based Renewable Northwest and the Wind Energy Foundation. The EIM, which allows Western utilities and the California Independent System Operator to buy and sell energy across the region, has now delivered $254.98 million in gross benefits to market participants in only three years.

These benefits have increased each year since the market began operation. Annual benefits to participants increased 144 percent from 2015 to 2016, from $39.73 million to $96.92 million, spurred by the additions of NV Energy, Puget Sound Energy, and the Arizona Public Service Electric Company. Moreover, the annual benefits to each existing participant have increased as each additional utility joins.  For example, by the second quarter of 2017, CAISO had seen more than a ten-fold increase in quarterly gross benefits to $15.49 million as compared to Q4 2014, while PacifiCorp’s quarterly benefits nearly doubled to $8.81 million.

“The rapid expansion of the EIM across the West shows that increased regional coordination really can capture the inherent value of the diverse resources and weather patterns across our interconnected grid,” said Rachel Shimshak, Executive Director of Renewable Northwest.

The Western Connection is home to significant amounts of low-cost renewable power resouces. However, with limited service areas and transmission capacity, Western utilities were often unable to deliver the lowest-cost power to the areas with the greatest demand. Joining the EIM allows utilities to access lower cost electricity and reduce the dispatch of costly reserves.

“This report clearly demonstrates the growing benefits of the EIM,” said John Kostyack, Executive Director, Wind Energy Foundation. “It’s particularly important to note that these benefits increase for all market participants, existing and new, as the market footprint expands.”

As a result, more utilities are analyzing the benefits of membership in consideration of participating in the EIM. These utilities include, but are not limited to: the Bonneville Power Administration, Tucson Electric Power, El Centro Nacional de Control de Energía, Avista Corporation, and NorthWestern Energy.

The Idaho Power Company and Powerex are already scheduled to join the EIM in April 2018, while Seattle City Light, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are scheduled to join in April 2019. Salt River Project is scheduled to join in April 2020.

Kate Van Brocklin

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