Thursday, February 21, 2019

Western EIM Looks to Expand its Authority

By Hudson Sangree

The Western Energy Imbalance Market Governing Body heard from stakeholders Thursday about proposals to increase the market’s say over its existing interstate real-time market and an expanded day-ahead market (EDAM), if it’s eventually established.

The Energy Imbalance Market currently has seven participants in addition to CAISO. | CAISO

The discussion was part of a governance review, required by the EIM’s charter, that began in December with a straw proposal and issue paper drafted by CAISO staff. The main issues are the delegation of authority between the EIM and CAISO and the process and criteria for selecting body members.

“The ISO and the EIM Governing Body are hoping for robust stakeholder comments on all these issues,” the straw proposal says.

On Thursday, EIM Governing Body members got an earful of comments from a half-dozen stakeholders at CAISO headquarters in Folsom, Calif.

Laura Trolese, a senior policy analyst with the Pacific Northwest’s Public Generating Pool, recommended that the EIM Regional Issues Forum be given a more formal role, including being able to discuss and advise the Governing Body on CAISO stakeholder initiatives, which it currently isn’t allowed to do.

Laura Trolese | Public Generating Pool

Lea Fisher, representing Seattle City Light, called for public power providers to play more of a role in EIM governance, saying they are currently underrepresented.

And Jennifer Gardner, an attorney with Western Resource Advocates, said public interest lawyers and consumer advocates should also have more of a presence in the EIM.

Idaho Public Utilities Commissioner Kristine Raper briefed the Governing Body on the activities of the EIM’s Body of State Regulators (BOSR). She said the BOSR recommends a governance revamp that “simplifies and shares [authority] more equitably” between the EIM and CAISO.

Kristine Raper | © RTO Insider

Altogether, the EIM had received more than 20 sets of comments from stakeholders on the governance review by a Jan. 11 deadline. Thursday’s briefing was meant to give Governing Body members an overview of those comments and take comments over the phone and in person.

CAISO’s Tariff delegates certain responsibilities to the EIM, including parceling out its decision-making and advisory duties. The EIM’s Governing Body now has primary authority over market rules that are EIM-specific, meaning they apply uniquely to the EIM balancing area or apply differently within that area than in the ISO’s California territory. The EIM can play an advisory role on a broader range of issues. (See EIM Leaders OK Governance ‘Guidance’ Proposal.)

The straw proposal would expand the EIM’s decisional authority to Tariff amendments where it is the “primary driver,” even if it is not solely affected by the changes under consideration. That piece could be approved separately as soon as this spring, CAISO staff told the Governing Body.

Jennifer Gardner | Western Resource Advocates

Commenters were divided over whether EIM governance changes should be adopted incrementally or all at once, and how the proposed EDAM should be factored into that decision.

“‘The improvements that you’re asking for are all absolutely valid,” Governing Body member Kristine Schmidt told the speakers.

Another member, John Prescott, said his takeaway from the comments was that staff should move forward quickly with the recommendation to expand the EIM’s decisional authority.

Prescott’s colleague, Travis Kavulla, said that before any changes are made, he’d like to see a clearer delineation of authority between the EIM and ISO than the subjective process the straw proposal recommends.

“It shouldn’t be like a priest asking in the confessional, ‘What is in your heart?’” when deciding if a sin is venial or mortal, Kavulla said. “It serves everyone better when the lines of authority are drawn more clearly.”

An EIM Regional Issues Forum is scheduled for March 11 in Albuquerque, N.M., followed by a Governing Body meeting on March 12 in the same location. The last forum was held in Phoenix in October. (See Western States to Tackle Wildfires, Renewables, EIM Told.)

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