Grid Operator OKs Non-Energy Trading

By Published On: October 30, 2009

Energy trading that has no physical energy component is set for the California Independent System Operator wholesale market in 2011. The grid operator board approved the new trading platform October 29. According to staff, the move should lead to lower-cost energy through more market liquidity and better trading information. The trades--which are basically the same as the derivatives over which federal regulators are planning to increase regulation--would not represent actual electricity increases, decreases or ancillary services. They would be hedges, intermittent renewable generation expectancies, and other vehicles that would be bid into the grid operator’s day-ahead market. The move to non-energy trading, called “convergence” by CAISO, and “virtual” by other grid operators to the east, has taken three years of stakeholder/grid operator staff workouts, according to participants. That is not enough, according to California Public Utilities Commission staff at the board meeting. The commission requested more time and stakeholder input. The board, instead, voted unanimously to go ahead with the new bidding process. Traders and generators were more forgiving. “Convergence bidding is not a casino,” said Dynegy director of regulatory affairs Brian Theaker.

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