Hansen’s transmission bill

ptdoe writes: what is Hansen’s bill really about?  Looks like we already have load balancing being evaluated if not fully accomplished–the thing they don’t have in the don’t-mess-with-me state.  Is giving the monopolies a free hand to build more transmission lines really a good idea if CCA is approved for use in CO?. And what about the U.S. effort to integrate the entire grid?  Isn’t public ownership of that grid better than Xcel and Try-state owning it?  This is a 2019 article from the DBJ.  See today’s article below it.  

Colorado power companies join new regional electricity markets

Greg Avery, Denver Business Journal Sep 10, 2019

A trio of power suppliers in Colorado the West is joining a regional market to buy and sell electricity in early 2021, and four utilities serving the biggest cities on the Front Range may follow suit.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a Westminster-based not-for-profit providing wholesale electricity to 43 rural cooperative utilities, announced that in February, 2021 it will join the Southwest Power Pool’s Western Energy Imbalance Service that matches utilities with excess electricity with those needing more power to meet demand.

Tri-State, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, which supplies electricity to 141 small utilities across nine states in the Rockies and Midwest, and the Western Area Power Administration, which oversees the distribution of power generated by 57 federal government hydropower plants, are the first three organizations to sign contracts participating in the regional energy market being established by the Little Rock, Arkansas-based Southwest Power Pool.

“Through the WEIS, our regional utilities are moving forward together with a cost-effective solution that quickly increases market efficiencies, reduces expenses for our members and electric consumers, and supports Tri-State’s rapid transition to cleaner energy,” said Duane Highley, Tri-State’s CEO, in a written statement. “Our entry into the WEIS advances the goal to provide utilities across the west options to participate in a real-time, beneficial market solution.”

Tri-State member co-ops sell electricity to 1.5 million customers in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

The contracts to join the Southwest Power Pool’s imbalance market last four years.

On Aug. 30., Xcel Energy Colorado (Nasdaq: XEL), the largest Denver-metro area utility, and three utilities that serve Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Fort Collins, Longmont, Loveland and Estes Park, announced they’re studying whether to join the Southwest Power Pool’s market too, or join a different regional market known as the Western Energy Imbalance Market, run by the California Independent System Operator.

The power pools should benefit customers and the environment, said Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy Colorado.

“Working together, we have the potential to drive down fuel costs and provide customers with more energy from wind and solar resources,” she said.

The four utilities’ expect to wrap up the study this month, and a final decision made about whether to join one of the imbalance markets as a group reached by the end of the year.

Establishing a regional market allows for more efficient movement of electrical power to where it’s needed. That’s becoming more important as utilities move away from burning coal and natural gas and lean more on intermittent renewable energy from wind and solar projects.

Colorado passed a law this spring requiring utilities in the state to eliminate 90% of their carbon emissions by 2050.

Other Western states have passed similar laws, and the increasing reliance on renewable sources is expected to make imbalance markets and other forms of regional collaboration over power supplies more important, said Jennifer Gardner, a senior staff attorney with Western Resource Advocates who specializes in regional energy markets.

Neighboring utilities in the West can and do call on each other to provide excess electricity when they need it now. But having a broader geographic market that’s more efficient makes sense as renewable energy creates more mismatches between where energy is being generated and where it’s most in demand, she said.

“If the wind’s not blowing in Colorado, maybe there’s other resources in California or maybe Arizona that can be tapped into that’s still renewable and provides reliable power,” she said.

Imbalance markets also tend to reduce times when utilities have to shut off or turn down wind or solar power generation because there’s too much electricity being generated for the local grid, which can be a fairly common occurrence in the West today, Gardner said.

Now the question is which of the imbalance markets will Xcel Energy and the other Front Range utilities decide to join.

SPP, a not-for-profit organization, manages electrical power for 99 members who cover all or parts of 14 states roughly from North Dakota south into Texas.

Since 2007, it has run an imbalance market to balance electrical supply and demand among utilities and power suppliers in the eastern U.S., and it has eyed establishing one in the West for several years.

“WAPA, Basin and Tri-State are the first customers signed on to take that service from us,” said Derek Wingfield, a spokesman for SPP.

Several Colorado utilities, collaborating as the Mountain West Transmission Group, announced the intention to start participating in a Southwestern Power Pool-managed imbalance market until the effort collapsed after the surprise withdrawal of Xcel Energy in 2016.

Utilities have to weigh cost, transmission concerns and other factors when joining an imbalance market.

Such markets are considered a half-step toward regional transmission organizations, which manage moving power around a large area and also ensures reliability of power supplies.

Such organizations are common around the U.S., but concerns about retaining control of transmission lines and other factors have kept Colorado utilities from joining or forming one. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission is starting to look at what RTO membership could mean for utilities in the state.

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