The California Independent System Operator Corp. and PacifiCorp have signed a memorandum of understanding indicating that the Portland-based energy company will explore full participation in the ISO as a Participating Transmission Owner. The memorandum paves the way for performing a joint study on the feasibility and benefits of PacifiCorp joining the only competitive wholesale market in the West.
The ISO is an independent, non-profit organization that manages about 80 percent of the energy flow in California. PacifiCorp is one of the West's leading utilities, serving nearly 1.8 million customers in Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and a small portion of California. A decision to join the ISO by PacifiCorp would allow for a full coordination of the two largest electrical transmission grids in the region and allow customers served by both entities access to a broader array of power generation at lower costs.
"PacifiCorp has become a valued partner and we are happy that they are exploring the extra value of fully taking advantage of the ISO's state-of-the-art technology, planning talent and full spectrum of market products," said ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich. "PacifiCorp's full participation can make our market much stronger for all current ISO and Energy Imbalance Market participants, and can help lower costs, better leverage assets and reduce emissions across the region. While PacifiCorp is considering this step as best for them, we remain fully committed to the Energy Imbalance Market."
Last November, PacifiCorp began participating in the six-state Energy Imbalance Market, or EIM, which is a part of the efficient and effective services the ISO provides. In its first few months in the EIM, PacifiCorp has realized millions in cost benefits, which helped inform its decision to explore expanding that partnership to increase cost savings for customers, enhancing grid reliability and to support its clean energy goals.
"PacifiCorp and the ISO are well-positioned to strengthen our existing partnership in order to benefit customers, support clean energy goals and enhance service throughout the West and Pacific Northwest," said Pat Reiten, president and CEO of PacifiCorp Transmission. "PacifiCorp customers will enjoy the same benefits of economies of scale that the competitive marketplace creates, just as the customers of all ISO full members have been earning."
Over the next several months, the ISO and PacifiCorp will conduct an analysis of the cost and benefits associated with full participation. The process includes ample opportunities for stakeholder comments and ISO Board of Governors approval to take any further steps towards full integration.
The most recent utilities to become full ISO participating members are Valley Electric Association of Pahrump, Nevada, the first out-of-state energy company to join the ISO, and the City of Colton, CA, both officially becoming members in January 2013. If PacifiCorp transitions to full participation, it will be the ISO's 17th transmission owning member.
PacifiCorp's decision announced today does not impact its successful and continued involvement in the EIM, nor will it affect the ISO's offer to provide EIM services to other western and Pacific Northwest entities.