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Sunset on Grid West

RTOs in the region continue to struggle.

Fortnightly Magazine - January 2006

systems. Increasing costs of RTOs have led stakeholders involved in the formation of RTOs in the West to question if the benefits of the RTO will exceed the costs. Figure 2 illustrates the geographic scope of existing and proposed RTOs in the WECC.

In the Southwest, the WestConnect RTO effort is dormant, and the cost-benefit study still has not been released. However, was launched in 2004 as a common OASIS serving the WECC, an Internet-based regional transmission market that is not limited to members of WestConnect or to the Southwest.

Cal-ISO, which began operation in March 1998, continues to work on implementing its comprehensive market redesign (now called “market redesign technology upgrade project,” or MRTU), which involves a completely integrated forward market process (including a day-ahead market) and computer software using locational marginal pricing for congestion management. The target completion date is 2007.

Alberta opened its wholesale electricity market to competition in 1996 and has continued to refine it. The province’s Department of Energy completed a market design review in June 2005, considering a binding day-ahead energy market and proposed resource adequacy mechanisms.

This history line in Table 1 shows key milestones in restructuring energy markets in the West and the obstacles to that vision.