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Nevada Considers Joining California ISO

Nevada Considers Joining California ISO

As possibly the first step toward the formation of a multi-state western U.S. electricity transmission grid operator, the California Independent System Operator's governing board has authorized the ISO management to discuss with Nevada regulatory staff a deal under which the California nonprofit grid operator would expand its operations to handle Nevada. Public Utilities Commission staff in Nevada raised the issue last month as an option for the state as it anticipates a new law that will open Nevada power markets next spring.

The Nevada PUC staff proposal reportedly would first have a Nevada entity work with the California ISO, which eventually would merge its system with Nevada's. The attraction for Nevada is the fact that its neighboring state's ISO is up and running, while Nevada will have to wait a minimum of a year to get FERC approval of the so-called "Desert Star" (Desert Southwest Transmission and Reliability Operator), which would involve Arizona and New Mexico utilities, along with Nevada Power's control area.

The California ISO, whose board chairman is vocal about promoting the creation of a Western ISO, has developed six possible options for working with Nevada, only one envisions a total absorption of Nevada's grid management. Another would split the transmission control between the two states, but function as one market.

Other options are more varied and a couple would have Nevada only contract for specific administrative functions from California, such as billing and settlements functions using either California's or Nevada's protocols.

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