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April 2020  •  Issue 25
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.

Power grid operating reliably during COVID-19 outbreak


In these uncertain and stressful times, Californians can rest assured that the grid remains stable and reliable, which is as important now as it ever is.

As the power grid operator for most of California, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) is taking proactive steps to protect its staff, stakeholders and customers, and the larger community. The ISO continues to fulfill our critical mission to ensure reliability on the grid, to maintain efficient market operations, including the real-time energy imbalance market for eight western states, and to provide reliability coordinator services to most balancing authorities in the West.

At the outset of the virus outbreak, the ISO implemented internal protocols and procedures to minimize the risk of disruption to our operations. We ramped up internal precautions, such as closing buildings and offsite meeting venues to visitors, prohibiting non-essential business travel, increasing cleaning in the workplace, and training staff to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for cleanliness and social distancing. We have also implemented employee screening protocols for those required to be at our facilities to perform essential functions, including taking temperatures before entering the building, and verbal and visual checks for possible symptoms.

The control centers are running at full staffing level, as we are a critical energy facility and thus an essential service under the Governor’s stay-at-home order. Control rooms have increased cleaning, and control room operators are screened before entering the control room.

The ISO continues to closely monitor COVID-19 developments, and follow state and CDC recommendations. We will provide periodic updates on our website and through the Daily Briefing to keep stakeholders informed of developments necessary for them to continue to engage effectively in our public processes, such as market policy initiatives and board meetings.

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ISO study proves wind can be key to renewable integration


A newly published ISO report shows that wind power plants can supply essential grid services, creating a path for significant amounts of renewables to be added to the electric system.

The ISO partnered with Avangrid Renewables, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and General Electric to conduct tests on a wind generator in eastern San Diego County demonstrating that large, utility scale wind plants can provide important services to the grid that currently are being supplied by conventional thermal generators.

The study will have global implications for all grids working to decarbonize and shift to higher amounts of renewable resources. View the ISO’s news release on the report findings.

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ISO Board approves 2019-2020 Transmission Plan


The ISO’s 2019-2020 Transmission Plan ensures consumers are served by a reliable bulk electric system and sets the foundation to meet the state’s renewable energy goals.

Last month the ISO Board of Governors approved a total of nine transmission projects at an estimated cost of $141.7 million as essential to maintain reliability of the ISO transmission system.

Of this year’s projects, seven are located in Pacific Gas & Electric’s service territory at an estimated cost of $120.7 million. The remaining two projects are located within the Valley Electric Association/GridLiance West and Southern California Edison service territories at an estimated cost totaling $21 million.

This year’s plan recognized there was no additional need for any policy driven projects to be approved at this time to achieve the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal of 60 percent by 2030.

For the past 15 months, the ISO collaborated with stakeholders, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission to identify upgrades needed to successfully meet the system’s reliability needs, California’s policy goals, and transmission projects that can bring economic benefits to consumers over the next 10 years.

View the 2019-2020 Transmission Plan on the ISO’s transmission planning process webpage.

In a separate item, the Board of Governors also approved establishing reliability must-run designations for Greenleaf II Cogen, Channel Island Power and E.F. Oxnard Incorporated to keep these resources online.

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    Two public utilities join the Western EIM


    Two of the nation’s largest community-owned utilities, Salt River Project and Seattle City Light, began participating in the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) on April 1. The utilities together serve approximately 1.5 million total customers.

    The Western EIM, operated by the ISO, is a real-time, wholesale energy trading market that enables participants throughout the western United States to buy and sell energy when needed. Since its launch in 2014, the Western EIM has produced more than $800 million in benefits while reducing carbon emissions by more than 400,000 metric tons.

    Together with Salt River Project and Seattle City Light, the current EIM participants include the ISO, PacifiCorp, NV Energy, Arizona Public Service, Puget Sound Energy, Portland General Electric, Idaho Power, Powerex, and the Balancing Area of Northern California. The EIM participants represent 61 percent of the load in the Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC).

    Other entities scheduled to join the EIM include Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, NorthWestern Energy, Turlock Irrigation District, Public Service Company of New Mexico, and BANC Phase 2 in 2021, and Tucson Electric Power, Avista, Tacoma Power, and Bonneville Power Administration in 2022.

    In December 2019, Xcel Energy, together with Black Hills Colorado Electric, Colorado Springs Utilities, and Platte River Power Authority, announced their intent to join the Western EIM. The group is working with the ISO to finalize its implementation agreement and determine a date to join the market with a target of 2021.

    Visit Western EIM, for information on the market, quarterly benefits, governance, initiatives, and upcoming meetings.

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    Decker reappointed to EIM Governing Body


    The Western Energy Imbalance (EIM) Governing Body unanimously approved Anita Decker’s reappointment to a second term on the EIM Governing Body during its March meeting.

    Decker, who has 39 years of electric industry experience, was appointed to the EIM Governing Body to fill an unexpired term that will end in June. Her new term is effective July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

    Decker was the executive director of the Northwest Public Power Association, served as the chief operating officer for Bonneville Power Administration and held positions in Oregon, Wyoming, and Utah for PacifiCorp.

    The EIM Governing Body oversees the Western EIM, the West’s first real-time energy market that has collectively saved consumers over $861 million and reduced greenhouse gas emission by more efficiently integrating clean energy into the regional grid.

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