Regional Markets Touted for Over-Gen Fix

By Published On: October 23, 2014

How to cope with too much of a good thing was one of themes of the grid operator’s annual symposium Oct. 22-23 in Sacramento. Up to 12,000 MW of excess generation from both utility scale and consumer generated renewables is expected by 2020, according to Steve Berberich, California Independent System Operator president. High flows into voltage lines at times when it is not needed is seen as potentially destabilizing the grid. Berberich put the over-generation estimate in context by noting the import ceiling was 2,000 MW. “There is no way to export 12,000 MW today.” Current strategies for slimming down what is referred to as the large belly on the “duck curve” is to lower the bid floor and incent other regions to take some of the capacity, Berberidh said. Regional collaboration also is seen as key to dealing effectively with over-generation. Philip Moeller, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member, agreed with Berberich on the advantage of using expanded markets to deal with ebbs and flows of renewable resources. “The trends are pretty clear, markets are expanding because they make sense,” Moeller said. He added that while microgrids are spreading, while important they shouldn’t crowd out the need for a wider and "robust" wholesale market. Both Berberich and Moeller touted the grid operator’s three-week old “imbalance” market with PacifiCorp. The pilot project expands the boundaries of California's five-minute market used to fill short-term supply gaps, to include six other states. Moeller noted the wider market takes advantage of different regional weather patterns, which can help balance out intermittent flows of wind and solar power into the grid. This new imbalance market is “good for consumer and environment,” he said. PacifiCorp's and California's imbalance markets, which are running parallel this month, are expected to fully operate as one Nov. 1, as planned. Is this emerging new imbalance market, which is to include NV Energy next year, a precursor to a regional market? “Only if desired by the West,” Berberich added.

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