BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Power is joining seven other electric utilities in the western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), enabling the company to buy low-cost energy from across the region in real time.
The EIM uses advanced trading technology to manage a real-time wholesale energy market, responding to constantly changing customer demand by deploying the least-cost available resource. The system benefits customers by keeping electricity rates low while helping to integrate the increasing level of solar, wind and other renewable resources in the region.
“We believe customers will see benefits from the EIM over time, and we expect those benefits to increase as more utilities join the market,” said Tess Park, Idaho Power’s Vice President of Power Supply.
An independent consultant found that Idaho Power could save $4.1-5.1 million annually, before EIM related expenses. Those savings will be passed along to customers.
The EIM is managed by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which uses state-of-the-art software to automatically analyze western grid needs and find the lowest-cost generation to meet demand every five minutes. This reduces costs by allowing participating utilities to pool required energy reserves.
Idaho Power has been operating its system in parallel with the EIM for several months, testing the system in preparation for joining the market on April 4. It joins British Columbia utility Powerex as the latest additions to the western EIM. The market now covers eight states and one Canadian province and serves more than half of the electricity demand in the Western Interconnection.
“Covering a broad territory with a wide variety of resources will help Idaho Power manage our operations and integrate the growing volume of renewable energy sources on our system,” Park said.
Integrating resources like solar and wind, which have output that can vary widely throughout the day, while maintaining system reliability is an important benefit of participating in a regional pool.
“We have been working on this for the better part of two years to ensure a smooth transition and to make sure that our company and our customers will be well-served by our participation,” Park added.
The western EIM has saved utilities more than $250 million since its launch in November 2014 through 2017. The market also found a home for excess solar generation that otherwise would have been turned off, reducing carbon emissions by nearly 223,000 metric tons, which equates to taking nearly 50,000 cars off the road for one year.
More utilities are slated to enter the market in the next two years, including the Balancing Authority of Northern California/Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Salt River Project of Phoenix, Seattle City Light and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Learn more about the EIM at westerneim.com.
About Idaho Power:
Idaho Power, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, and locally operated since 1916, is an electric utility that employs more than 2,000 people who serve approximately 542,000 customers throughout a 24,000-square-mile area in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. With 17 low-cost hydroelectric projects as the core of its diverse generation portfolio, Idaho Power’s residential, business and agricultural customers pay among the nation’s lowest rates for electricity. IDACORP Inc. (NYSE: IDA), Idaho Power’s independent publicly traded parent company, is also headquartered in Boise, Idaho.