Avista officially entered the Western Energy Imbalance Market (WEIM) on March 2, joining 16 other western utilities in the real-time wholesale energy trading market. The WEIM enables participants anywhere in the West to buy and sell power close to the time electricity is consumed.
With state-of-the-art technology, the market finds and delivers lowest-cost resources to meet immediate power needs and manages congestion on transmission lines to maintain grid reliability. The WEIM also provides system operators real-time visibility across neighboring grids, resulting in a more efficient balancing of supply and demand.
The environmental benefits of the WEIM are also noteworthy. With more variable resources such as solar and wind on the grid, excess clean power would typically tend to be curtailed and go unused to keep the grid from becoming overloaded. With greater regional coordination enabled by the WEIM, that clean power can be moved across a large geographic area to displace other energy which may have been generated using fossil fuels. Since 2014, greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by more than 700,000 metric tons, or the equivalent of taking almost 150,000 passenger cars off the road for one year.
“Joining the Western Energy Imbalance Market expands our ability to integrate more renewable energy while continuing to meet the energy needs of our customers, reliably and affordably,” said Jason Thackston, Avista’s senior vice president of energy resources. “It’s one more way we are working toward our goal of serving customers with 100% clean electricity by 2045 and 100% carbon neutral resources by 2027.”
Since joining the WEIM, Avista has seen significant value in terms of both increased revenue and reduced resource dispatch costs. Now that Avista is interconnected with other utilities across the west, we can offer meaningful benefits to our customers through enhanced operational efficiencies and the integration of variable clean energy resources into the power grid.
“Avista has been working for three years to prepare for our integration into the Western Energy Imbalance Market,” explained Scott Kinney, director of energy supply. “This was a complex transition affecting everything from meter infrastructure to controls at our generation plants, the integration of eight software programs and training employees to learn how to participate in the market. We are excited about the opportunity to leverage market resources to help enhance reliability and affordability for our customers.”
By the end of 2023, the WEIM will expand to 22 participants serving nearly 80% of the electricity demand in the Western United States. The WEIM will continue to provide increased economic and reliability benefits through the real-time transfer of energy. Additionally, the market’s resource diversity recently helped push the cumulative benefits for participating WEIM entities to more than $2 billion since its inception in 2014.