Grid Geeks Podcast Episode 3

Western Markets and Regionalization: Why Should We Care?


The transmission system for the Western 1/3 of the United States is divided up into over thirty different electrical fiefdoms known as balancing areas. Each one controls planning, ensures reliability and coordinates operations for their own small area. California is the exception to this rule, as it has developed a state-wide "regional grid." In addition to cost inefficiencies related to the lack of coordination across the smaller regions, a new problem has emerged. California's abundance of carbon-free and zero fuel-cost solar, along with wind in Wyoming and other states, is getting curtailed or "dumped" because there is over supply within their regions or balancing area. At the same time, customers in surrounding states are losing out on the bill savings that could come with access to these cheap resources. What's a state to do?

On what will be the first of several conversations on the issue of western market development, renewables integration, and coal power plant retirement, Jennifer Gardner from Western Resource Advocates joins to discuss the potential for utilities in the West to join regional grid operators. Specifically, she considers the California Independent System Operator and the Southwest Power Pool. 

(And once again, next week will start a new era in audio sound production, so stay tuned!)

From this episode:

CAISO Regionalization Information

Mountain West Transmission Group and SPP Information

More on the duck curve:

CAISO Duck Curve FAQs

Regulatory Assistance Project, Teaching the Duck to Fly