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CAISO reports $28M in Q4'16 energy imbalance market benefits

Even with lower demand throughout the region in the fourth quarter of 2016, the growing western energy imbalance market once again produced savings, according to the latest report on the EIM from the California ISO.

CAISO said benefits in the fourth quarter of 2016 were about $28.3 million, bringing the total benefits since the EIM's November 2014 launch to about $142.6 million. The market also displaced a little more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by using surplus renewable energy from California that otherwise would have gone unused, CAISO said.

Puget Sound Energy Inc. and Arizona Public Service Co. joined the EIM in October 2016. "The total gross EIM benefits increased as a result of the expanded EIM footprint even though demand is generally lower in the fall and winter," the grid operator said in a report. The report noted a similar trend in the fourth quarter of 2015 when NV Energy Inc. joined the EIM.

The EIM automatically optimizes the real-time grid and finds lower-cost energy, regardless of its location, to serve consumers in portions of Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, the ISO explained.

Benefits include cost savings and the use of surplus renewable energy to displace conventional generating resources, the report said.

According to the report, NV Energy's total benefits in the last three months of 2016 were about $3.1 million, while PacifiCorp saw benefits of close to $9.0 million and the ISO $8.7 million. APS saw benefits of nearly $6.0 million, while Puget Sound's benefits reached about $1.6 million.

The EIM is expected to grow more in the coming years. Portland General Electric Co. is scheduled to join in October, followed by IDACORP Inc. subsidiary Idaho Power Co. in April 2018 and Seattle City Light in April 2019.

The Balancing Authority of Northern California, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the El Centro Nacional de Control de Energía, serving a portion of Baja California in Mexico, have separately announced their intentions to enter or explore entering the EIM.