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Industry Brief

In a move that could have implications for the future mix of natural gas-fired and renewable-based electric generation in the West, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and Portland, OR-based PacifiCorp have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which the multi-state power utility will pursue a joint study on the feasibility and benefits of it joining the California-based grid operator, the West's sole competitive wholesale power market. PacifiCorp's portfolio includes 20% gas-fired generation, or about 3,000 MW (owned or under long-term contract), a CAISO spokesperson said. If the utility joins CAISO, it would include the added gas-fired generation, assuming those gas units' bids were accepted through the grid operator's competitive practices. CAISO welcomed the MOU as a means of potentially linking more closely the two largest power grids in the West, allowing customers served by both entities more choices and potentially cheaper power supplies.

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