Seattle City Light and Arizona-based Salt River Project went live April 1 in the Western EIM operated by the California ISO.

Combined, the two utilities are among the largest community-owned utilities in the country, together serving about 1.5 million customers.

SCL noted in emailed comments that the COVID-19 pandemic complicated its entry into the EIM, requiring "extraordinary teamwork" to execute a "go-live" that would have typically involved "multiple groups interacting in a face-to-face, close-quartered, collaborative team environment."

But under the "go-live environment we just experienced, the teams were virtual, with very few exceptions," SCL said. "From the ISO in California to our software vendor in Minnesota, we conducted one of the first of two successful EIM go-live implementations with little-to-no physical interactions between the dispatchers, the consultants, the California Independent System Operator, the power marketers, risk management and the extended project team from across the utility."

Originally planning to join in 2019, SCL pushed that to 2020—new members are accepted only once a year on April 1—after determining it needed software upgrades and replacements.

In the ramp-up to April, the muni started using the new energy-trading and risk-management system needed to conduct transactions in bilateral markets; configured and tested EIM-specific software; performed connectivity testing with CAISO; and ran several readiness tests.

With SCL and Salt River memberships, the EIM now serves more than 60 percent of WECC's total energy load, CAISO said in a release.

Entities scheduled to join the EIM in 2021 are Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, NorthWestern Energy, Turlock Irrigation District, Public Service Company of New Mexico and BANC Phase 2.

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

Scheduled to join in 2022 are BPA, Avista, Tacoma Power and Tucson Electric Power.

FERC accepted California ISO's Western EIM implementation agreement with BPA on Feb. 28. This brings the power marketing agency a step closer to deciding whether to join the real-time energy market [ER20-536].

The agreement, signed in September, isn't a green light for the BPA to join the market; rather, it allows it to continue investigating policy issues and rate and tariff impacts associated with joining the EIM. Bonneville garnered unanimous stakeholder approval to sign the agreement.

Meanwhile, CAISO has started a stakeholder initiative process to extend the day-ahead-market to EIM participants in 2021.

Benefits for EIM participants have totaled more than $861 million since the market launched in November 2014, along with reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more efficiently integrating clean energy into the grid, according to CAISO

News Editor - Clearing Up

Rick Adair has been with NewsData since 2003, and is news editor for Clearing Up and editor for Water Power West. Previously, he covered environmental and energy issues in the Lake Tahoe area. He has a doctorate in earth sciences.