Mexican border state mulls participation in US electricity grid

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mexico's energy control center Cenace and California's Independent System Operator (ISO) are considering the participation of the state of Baja California Norte's grid in the western energy imbalance market (EIM), both agencies said.

The ISO manages the flow of electricity across 80% of the US state of California, and part of Nevada, and is the only independent grid operator in the western US.

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Cenace and the ISO will begin a benefits assessment and enter into a cooperation agreement to support Cenace's market implementation, as directed by the clean energy memorandum of understanding between Mexico's energy ministry (Sener) and the state of California, the ISO said.

The MOU was signed by the Mexican energy minister Pedro Joaquín Coldwell and California governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in July 2014.

Mexico's Baja California Norte is not connected to the country's mainland grid, or to its southern neighboring state Baja California. The Mexican border state has two US California grid connections, at Otay Mesa and Imperial Valley.

The state's participation in the western EIM would enable it to benefit from the savings that a large geographic region can offer, according to Steve Berberich, ISO president and CEO.

"Like our current EIM participants, we recognize that a successful energy future relies on regional collaboration to best plan and optimize resources, especially renewable power. We welcome Cenace's interest and agreement to explore participating in the western EIM," he said.

Cenace director general Eduardo Meraz said that participation in the western real-time market and the benefits realized so far by other participants is worthy of serious consideration.

"Mexico has had a long, productive relationship with the ISO as we coordinate the management of our interconnected electricity grids," Meraz said. "It is only logical for Cenace to carefully consider Baja California Norte's participation in the western EIM, with its promises of lower-cost electricity and increased renewable integration."

According to the ISO, the grid operator uses state-of-the-art technology to automatically match lower cost energy supply from across the western US with demand every five minutes.

"This flexibility enables ISO grid operators to more efficiently use wind and solar resources from a wide geographic area where power output can change rapidly depending on wind speeds and cloud cover," the release said. "The resource optimization occurs across the entire EIM footprint giving utilities new access to low cost generation."

Since it began operation with Oregon-based PacifiCorp in November 2014, the western EIM has realized more than US$88mn in cost benefits, it said. The real-time energy market has also saved more than 126,000t of CO2 emissions by using excess renewable energy to offset fossil fuel generation.

The EIM currently operates in eight US states: California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona and Nevada.

In 2015 Mexico began exporting electricity to the US from the Energía Sierra Juárez wind farm in Tecate, Baja California Norte, developed by IEnova and InterGen.