PacifiCorp to partner with California grid operator

An agreement announced between PacifiCorp and the California ISO will create a vehicle for better distributing renewable energy resources across the West Coast region.

An agreement announced between PacifiCorp and the California ISO will create a vehicle for better distributing renewable energy resources across the West Coast region. 

A partnership announced Tuesday by PacifiCorp and the California Independent System Operator Corp. would team up the two organizations to better handle energy imbalances and streamline the use of renewable energy sources across the West Coast.

A memorandum of understanding between PacificCorp and the California ISO gives the green light to negotiate and garner federal approval for a real-time energy imbalance market — a mechanism for dispatching and sharing energy resources more efficiently across the grid. The exchange will use computer technology to exchange electricity at five-minute intervals — the old system, operated by telephone, only allowed for exchanges every hour.

If implemented the market would make it possible for PacifiCorp to coordinate with the California grid operator to take advantage of available energy supplies throughout both organizations' balancing authority.

For example the 2,500 megawatts of wind available to PacifiCorp could be dispatched to California during times of peak production. California resources would also be made available to PacifiCorp customers during times of peak demand.

"What it really allows us to do is to call on each others resources in a very flexible way," said PacifiCorp Chairman and CEO Greg Abel during a call with reporters.

Implementing an agreement will require a $2.1 million system investment paid to the California ISO by PacifiCorp and approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Both Abel and California ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich say the investment is modest compared the benefits that will be reaped in terms of lower costs for customers and better management of renewable resources.

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