Clean energy

On January 24, 2018, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), an organization charged with coordinating, controlling and managing the bulk electric system in California, began publishing real-time data on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants within its region. For the past year, the CAISO has already been making available on its public-facing website, real-time data on supply, demand and locational marginal pricing (LMP) of electricity flowing from power plants to electricity customers within California. The real-time data, which flows from the CAISO’s Open Access Same-Time Information System (OASIS) platform, provides market data such as system day-ahead and hour-ahead demand forecasts, transmission outage and capacity status, market prices and market result data. In addition to the publication of real-time information, the website (available here) also provides historical data on carbon dioxide emissions beginning from 2014 to identify trends.

The publication of real-time and historical greenhouse gas emissions data will likely have implications on current regionalization efforts by the CAISO that attempt to create a western market Independent System Operator (ISO). Proponents of regionalization claim that a wider western market would help California export excess solar power during the day and import wind power from other western states, resulting in lower electricity prices. Others argue that regionalization would allow out-of-state coal generation to export power to California customers, jeopardizing the state’s environmental policies. Most recently, in 2015, California updated its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goals to require electric retail sellers and publicly owned utilities to procure fifty percent of their electricity from eligible renewable energy sources by 2030. See California Senate Bill No. 350 here. Current legislative efforts may attempt to re-start ISO regionalization efforts. The publication of the real-time carbon dioxide emissions data is intended to help allay environmental concerns to regionalization. In addition, the availability to the public of real-time electricity information will also likely impact the regional Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), which manages energy trading and flow within the western states. The real-time availability of capacity, demand, prices and emissions data may help provide information to market participants and regulators to assess how to reliably and cost-effectively balance power supply and demand utilizing flexible resources under increasing carbon RPS goals.

For more information on this and other current CAISO initiatives and regionalization efforts, please contact Peter J. Scanlon, Sean M. Neal and Andrew B. Art.