October 19, 2021
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Oct. 19, 2021) — A coalition of business, clean energy, and conservation groups welcomed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Glick’s comments today urging Western utilities and state regulators to speed adoption of an expanded Western regional wholesale market, or regional transmission organization (RTO).
Glick spoke today at the Western Interstate Energy Board meeting, where the findings of a recent State-Led Market Study also were presented. According to the study report, consolidating utility operations under one market operator to manage transmission and coordinate generation planning could save Western electricity customers more than $2 billion per year while increasing reliability and supporting renewable energy development across the region.
The U.S. Department of Energy-funded report was produced with oversight and input from 11 Western states. The goal of study, which was administratively led by Utah, was to provide analysis for Western states to use in evaluating options and potential impacts associated with new wholesale energy markets and increased coordination of operations and planning. The study provides data on aggregated savings for multiple Western market configurations, as well as state-by-state findings.
“We have known that greater cooperation and coordination across the West’s nearly 40 different utility balancing authorities would create significant benefits,” said Bryn Baker, director of policy innovation for the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), whose members include more than 270 companies, including 77 companies on the Fortune 500 list. “This definitive report puts the onus on regulators and utilities to develop a West-wide RTO quickly and not leave these benefits on the table.”
“Creating a Western regional market to share energy and transmission resources will greatly increase electric system reliability and resilience,” said Amanda Ormond, a director for Western Grid Group. “Reliability is becoming increasingly threatened by changing weather patterns due to climate change, and regionalization of the electric grid is an important antidote.”
“Addressing climate change requires the building of a carbon-free electric grid that can support electrification of transportation and other sectors of the economy,” said Vijay Satyal, Western Resource Advocates’ regional energy markets manager. “The most cost-effective method is to develop a regional grid where resources are efficiently shared. The West needs and deserves a regional transmission organization that would strengthen grid reliability, facilitate cost-efficient electricity dispatch and enhance clean energy adoption.”
“Renewable energy development is on the rise around the West,” said Rikki Seguin, executive director of the Interwest Energy Alliance, which represents the nation’s leading wind, solar, and storage developers and manufacturers. “By moving toward a regional electricity market, diverse renewable resources can be combined across the electric system, resulting in a more reliable electric grid that simultaneously creates clean energy jobs in rural communities.”
“We appreciate Chairman Glick and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s commitment to work with Western states and stakeholders going forward,” said Fred Heutte, senior policy associate with the NW Energy Coalition. “The commission’s recent orders require a level playing field in regional markets for all resources, including demand response and storage. That will help us develop a diverse, balanced, and more reliable clean energy grid that provides real benefits to customers and achieves our climate and clean energy goals.”
The State-Led Market Study found that moving to a full RTO in the West would offer the greatest benefits to the region. The report also outlines best practices that would help in developing a thoughtful market design that would ensure state regulators in the West have an oversight role and can account for state policies and mandates. Specifically, the report calls for these steps regarding state involvement in developing an RTO:
- Informed engagement by a state regulatory commission in the planning, decisions, and governance of an organized market;
- Careful state regulatory commission consideration of conditions of approval requests by jurisdictional utilities to join an organized market; and
- Comprehensive review of the impacts of proposals to unbundle state regulated rates.
Western Grid Group works throughout the Western Interconnection to implement policies that accelerate the incorporation of a broad range of cost-effective, low-carbon technologies into the electric system. Securing development of infrastructure and energy market structures needed to achieve energy security and carbon reduction goals remains our primary focus. See www.westerngrid.net/
Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) is a national association for large-scale energy buyers seeking to procure renewable energy across the U.S. With more than 270 members from across the commercial and industrial sectors, nonprofit organizations, as well as energy providers and service providers, REBA is working towards the creation of a resilient, zero-carbon energy system. REBA’s members represent over $6 trillion in annual revenues and over 14 million U.S. employees. REBA’s goal is to catalyze 60 gigawatts of new renewable energy projects by 2025 and to unlock the energy market for all large-scale energy buyers by creating viable pathways to procurement.
Western Resource Advocates provides on the ground solutions to climate change. WRA works with policymakers and other advocates to advance clean energy; protect air, land, water, and wildlife; and sustain the lives and livelihoods of the West. For more information, visit westernresourceadvocates.org and follow us on Twitter @wradv and #ProtectTheWest.
Interwest Energy Alliance is a nonprofit trade association bringing together the nation’s leading solar, wind, geothermal, and storage developers and manufacturers with the nongovernmental environmental community to expand renewable energy around the Intermountain West. Interwest’s members and work can be found at www.interwest.org.
The NW Energy Coalition (www.nwenergy.org) leads the Northwest’s broadest alliance of energy interests, including over 100 environmental, civic, and human service organizations, progressive utilities, and businesses in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia. We envision a 21st century energy system that provides reliable, clean, affordable, and equitable service, sustains our communities, and preserves the region’s natural resources.