By Robert Mullin
An isolated area of Mexico’s grid already interconnected with California could become the first non-U.S. participant in the Western Energy Imbalance Market.
El Centro Nacional de Control de Energía (CENACE) — Mexico’s grid operator — and CAISO today announced an agreement to explore the benefits of having the Baja California Norte region join the West’s only real-time energy market.
While the region has no transmission connections with Baja California Sur or Mexico’s mainland grid, it boasts two 230-kV links with California through the Imperial Valley and Otay Mesa substations. Those lines, known as Path 45, provide about 800 MW of transfer capacity.
“CENACE’s Baja California Norte participation in the Western EIM will enable it to benefit from the savings that a large geographic region can offer,” CAISO CEO Steve Berberich said in a statement.
Baja already hosts natural gas-fired generation built in part to serve California’s market, including Sempra Energy’s 625-MW Termoelèctrica de Mexicali and Intergen’s 1,100-MW La Rosita. Deliveries into Imperial Valley can serve San Diego County via the 500-kV Sunrise Powerlink, which was energized in 2014.
The region also has promising potential for wind energy, which is increasingly valuable to California as the state seeks to balance its solar-heavy portfolio in pursuit of a 50% renewable standard. Sempra’s Energía Sierra Juárez, a 155-MW wind farm completed near the U.S. border last year, operates under a 20-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas and Electric.
“Mexico has had a long, productive relationship with the ISO as we coordinate the management of our interconnected electricity grids,” CENACE General Director Eduardo Meraz said. “It is only logical for CENACE to carefully consider Baja California Norte’s participation in the Western EIM, with its promises of lower-cost electricity and increased renewable integration.”
Mexico’s energy policy requires the country to generate 30% of its electricity from hydro and other renewable sources by 2021, a mandate that increases to 35% in 2024.
Legislation enacted in 2014 named CENACE the nationwide grid operator and partially deregulated Mexico’s power sector, allowing for expanded private sector participation. The agency, which manages the nation’s wholesale electricity market, operates more than 33,000 miles of high-voltage transmission.
The recently expanded EIM has four members operating in eight U.S. states: Arizona Public Service, NV Energy, PacifiCorp and Puget Sound Energy. (See Arizona Public Service, Puget Sound Energy Begin Trading in EIM.)