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ISO/RTO Markets: Building a Common IT Platform

Independent system operators and regional transmission organizations recognize the value in having a common IT architecture.

Fortnightly Magazine - August 2007

previously drafted standards as necessary. Thus far, the task force has created several sample standards, demonstrating that all of the required features are in place to describe real-world solutions.

The EAS task force has selected a handful of strategically important interfaces upon which to focus the initial effort, including:

Demand Response. Energy efficiency and conservation never has been more vital to ensuring a reliable supply of electricity. Accordingly, the ISOs and RTOs are working on systems to manage demand. These plans for demand-response systems figure heavily into the market and IT development plans in the near future. Prioritizing the development of a standard interface for demand-response applications makes sense because it enables ISO/RTO- software specialists, as well as application providers, to stay ahead of the development curve.

e-Tagging. In open-access transmission systems, such as those in North America, an entity must first reserve the necessary transmission service before arranging for an energy transfer schedule. Each energy transaction is identified through a computerized “tag,” and its impact on the transmission grid is calculated. The e-tagging system ensures that tags are created, sent, received, and approved in a timely, reliable manner. As inter-control area transactions grow in scope, effective e-tagging standards are becoming a necessity.

Outage Scheduling. The efficient processing of power-plant and transmission-outage requests and the management of scheduled outages are important services delivered by ISOs and RTOs. With an increased focus on congestion-management issues, outage coordinators need more efficient and powerful outage-scheduling tools. Several ISOs are working on plans for new outage-scheduling tools.

Settlements. Determining fees and payments for a set of wholesale energy and ancillary service-market transactions is a complex task. For each market to operate smoothly, market rules must be coded into software to cover each scenario envisioned during the design. Add to this mix software to handle large volumes of real-time operations information and metering data, and the software solutions become even more complicated. Small programming errors can lead to millions of dollars of incorrect settlement statements. For this reason, standardizing inputs and outputs of these systems should reduce such sizeable risks.

State Estimation. The state estimator is one of the most important tools used by system operators. This complex software application receives thousands of inputs from the electrical system ( e.g., breaker positions, substation voltages, etc.) and creates an accurate “picture” of the bulk electrical system. Given the important role this tool plays, coupled with increased performance needs for speed and accuracy, attention to standardized interfaces naturally should gravitate to this area.

Unit Commitment and Security Constrained Economic Dispatch. In both day-ahead and real-time wholesale markets, ISOs and RTOs share a common process for determining which generating units (or biddable demand) will participate in the market and at what production (or consumption) level. Standardizing this key step in the process will help to align many upstream and downstream processes, such as receiving and validating energy bids and offers and awarding and dispatching resources.

Final Step: Architecture and Standards Implementation

Good standards help define common practices, but the idea is not to pigeonhole the user community into