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August 2019  •   Issue 21
As a federally regulated nonprofit organization, the ISO plans and operates the state's high-voltage electric grid and "keeps the lights on" for California and a portion of Nevada.

Western EIM benefits reach $736 million


The California Independent System Operator (ISO) released its Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) second quarter report, which demonstrates the $86 million generated in gross benefits by each participant.

Since 2014, the real-time energy market has produced a total of $736.26 million in benefits. The Balancing Authority of Northern California (BANC), which began participation in April, received its first benefits.

The Western EIM finds and delivers the lowest cost energy to consumers across eight western states. It optimizes resources from a large, diverse pool, and facilitates the integration of renewable energy that may otherwise be curtailed at certain times of the day. Renewable energy integration is an added environmental benefit of the Western EIM.

Since 2015, the market has reduced a total of 403,546 metric tons of CO₂E in greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to 84,844 fewer passenger cars on the road for one year.

Future Western EIM participants include Arizona’s Salt River Project and Seattle City Light in 2020; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, NorthWestern Energy, Turlock Irrigation District, and the Public Service Company of New Mexico in 2021; and Tucson Electric Power, Avista and Tacoma Power Utility in 2022.

For more information, visit the ISO’s Western EIM website.

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RC West launches first phase of services


On July 1, the California ISO became the official Reliability Coordinator of Record for 16 electricity balancing authorities and transmission operators primarily in California, and one in Mexico.

The July launch was the first phase transition of power grid oversight from Peak Reliability to the ISO’s new service, called RC West. Last January, the ISO announced that it would become a Reliability Coordinator for entities within its footprint, and offer the service to all balancing authorities and transmission operators in the West.

A Reliability Coordinator has the highest level of authority and responsibility for the reliable operation of power grids, and has wide visibility of bulk electric systems. With this new service, RC West will monitor the interconnected power grids in the West for compliance with federal and regional grid standards; authorize measures to prevent or mitigate system emergencies in day-ahead or real-time operations; and lead system restoration following major incidents.

In early November, following additional certifications by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), the ISO anticipates that RC West will become the Reliability Coordinator for 23 entities in the Western Interconnection, overseeing 87 percent of the load in the western United States.

For more information on Reliability Coordinators and RC West, visit the ISO’s RC West webpage.

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Reducing fire risk through proactive plans


To keep communities safe from this wildfire season, California investor-owned utilities may proactively turn off the power on certain electrical lines, under their Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) plan. The California ISO has been working closely with utilities to coordinate operations in the event of a PSPS incident, and will mitigate for any power disruption.

As owners of the transmission facilities, the utilities will monitor for local wildfire risks, along with weather factors, such as high winds, low humidity, dry vegetation, and fire threat to electrical infrastructure. If it is determined that electrical lines may contribute to wildfire risk, the utilities may decide to de-energize lines.

The utility will notify the ISO grid operators about de-energizations as early as possible before a PSPS event. Generally, the ISO anticipates notification 24 to 48 hours prior to a de-energization of a line. The ISO will then study the potential impacts of a PSPS and prepare for the outage. The PSPS will be managed just as any other event that happens on the grid with short notice and in rapidly changing conditions.

For more information, visit the ISO’s Summer Readiness webpage, and find the PSPS program fact sheet.

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Voluntary conservation helps stabilize the grid


Although the days are getting shorter and kids are back in school, California may still experience hot days that could raise the demand for energy.

While the ISO believes there’s enough energy to meet the demand, heatwaves, unplanned power outages, and fires that lead to transmission line losses can cause shortages in energy supply.

During times of tight supply, it’s important to be prepared to conserve in the event the grid operator calls a Flex Alert. Flex Alerts encourage consumers to voluntarily conserve energy during predicted strain on the energy grid. These alerts are commonly issued when extremely hot weather causes an evening increase in electricity demand, when solar generation is going offline and consumers return home to turn on air conditioners, lights, and appliances. During wildfire season, Flex Alerts are especially important, as fires can cause transmission line outages.

Although most effective when issued a day in advance of the predicted shortage, Flex Alerts can also be issued with little or no advance notice.

When the ISO calls a Flex Alert, consumers are asked to:

    • Set air conditioners to 78 degrees or higher, if health permits
    • Delay using major appliances until after 9 p.m.
    • Turn off all unnecessary lights


To learn more, view energy conservation tips, and sign up to receive Flex Alert notifications, visit

You can also stay up to date on real-time grid conditions by:


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