As infrastructure and market functioning problems persistedMonday, the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) calledits 14th Stage One power alert since Nov. 1 and the 46th of theyear, signifying its reserves were expected to dip below 7% whendemand peaked between 5-7 p.m. PST. Initial indications were thatCal-ISO’s price cap lifting late Friday brought additional supplybids but had no impact on easing price increases.
Cal-ISO’s spokesperson Patrick Dorinson indicated that given thecontinuing supply and price problems, the Federal Energy RegulatoryCommission may consider imposing a regional wholesale price capthroughout the western states. The equivalent of California’s StageTwo power alerts were declared over the weekend in the state ofWashington, he said.
“I think (the bid cap lifting) got us some new bids, but theproblem is that a lot of them are in geographical areas in thesouthern half of the state and the shortage is in the north.Usually, if we have imports (from the Pacific Northwest) that isn’ta problem.” Cal-ISO was hoping to squeeze out another 4,500 MWfrom the Pacific Northwest Monday.
Notably, two California power generation units that had beenidle were back operating and the amounts of power out of service inthe state dropped to 8,700 MW, 5,000 of which was unplanned, butcontinuing tightening of supplies from the frozen Pacific Northwestkept the supply/demand situation critical even though projectedpeak demand was still relatively low at the 34,000-MW level.
“Import problems, that is what is really hurting us,” saidCal-ISO’s Dorinson, who noted that under-scheduling by generatorsholding off to bid into the Cal-ISO’s emergency real-time market isstill a problem as are congestion problems and shortages in thePacific Northwest.
So far, the Cal-ISO’s controversial unilateral lifting of the$250 cap on its ancillary services market has helped bring morebids to help ease the supply crunch, but has done nothing to easeprices by forcing more bids into the state-chartered wholesale spotpower market, the California Power Exchange (Cal-PX).
“I don’t mean to sound like a broken record,” Dorinson said,”but this is a regional problem; it is not California’s problemalone, and we have tried to impress this on our fellowCalifornians. We’re not an energy independent state, and it is notas easy as saying, ‘just go get more.’ First of all prices are highand, second, others are in the market. I almost am starting to lookback and think last summer was fun compared to this.”
Dorinson indicated the Cal-ISO may get some relief from FERC’sexpected action Friday and the two upcoming holiday weeks, duringwhich time power demand subsides as everyone shuts down theiroffice computer systems.
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