Some important stories are really boring, and it’s to get much duller than “electric grid operators in New England and New York take steps to coordinate their operations” – but the news is actually pretty important.
The press release by ISO-New England, which is the Independent System Operator for the six-state region, explains it:
Introduced on December 15, Coordinated Transaction Scheduling (CTS) makes more efficient use of the transmission lines by enabling market participants to access the lowest-cost source of power between the two regions. Enhancements include increasing the frequency of scheduling energy transactions over the transmission network between regions, software changes so the two ISOs can better coordinate selection of the most economic transactions, and the elimination of several fees that impede efficient trade between New York and New England. With these changes, higher-cost generation can be displaced by lower-cost generation, wherever the lower-cost supply is located.
I suspect a major effect will be our ability to import cheaper electricity in the winter from natural-gas-fired plants in New York, when our supply of natgas is taken up for heating purposes (assuming it ever gets cold enough this winter), although that’s just a guess. This stuff is complicated and I don’t understand the details.
This cooperation could be bigger than saving money, however. One of the big things that a new energy future needs is for electric grids to expand their reach by joining forces, because the ability to swap power over bigger distances will help us incorporate solar and wind power and their intermittency. Part of that grid improvement requires building new power lines – and we all know how easy that is – but Coordinated Transaction Scheduling sounds like the sort of step that is also needed.
New York’s power system is a good one to connect with, because that state is taking a real soup-to-nuts look at the whole electricity-production-and-distribution system, to help it move into a post-carbonizing economy. Its got a mushy name – Reforming the Energy Vision – but it’s a big deal. California and New York are the two states that have gone the farthest in updating their energy systems; the rest of us are watching what they do and probably will end up copying bits of it.