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Western energy imbalance market expands to Canada

Powerex Corp., the energy marketing subsidiary of BC Hydro and Power Authority, will join the western energy imbalance market starting in April 2018, making it the first market participant outside of the United States.

Headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Powerex buys and sells wholesale power, natural gas, ancillary services and renewable energy products across western North America. It is also a member of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council and has been active in the California ISO market for more than a decade.

"Powerex has actively participated in the ISO's five-minute market since 2005 through a dynamic scheduling arrangement, so joining the EIM is a logical extension of our intra-hour market participation," Powerex President and CEO Teresa Conway said in a May 30 news release. "Participation in the growing EIM footprint will allow us to transact sub-hourly wholesale energy across multiple utility service territories, generating economic benefits, while helping integrate renewables and enhance grid reliability in the west."

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, BC Hydro owns more than 12,000 MW of generating capacity, almost all of it hydroelectric.

Launched in 2014 by CAISO and PacifiCorp, the EIM serves utility consumers in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Since its launch, EIM participants have seen savings totaling more than $173 million, according to the grid operator's latest report.

NV Energy Inc., Puget Sound Energy Inc. and Pinnacle West Capital Corp. subsidiary Arizona Public Service Co. currently participate in the EIM.

The EIM will grow inside the United States as well in the coming years.

Portland General Electric will join in October, while IDACORP Inc. subsidiary Idaho Power Co. will join in April 2018. Seattle City Light, along with the Balancing Authority of Northern California and Sacramento Municipal Utility District, will start participating in the EIM in April 2019. The Salt River Project plans to join in April 2020. Others, including Mexico's El Centro Nacional de Control de Energia, are considering participation.

NV Energy and PacifiCorp are subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.