California Independent System Operator

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) is a nonprofit public benefit corporation responsible for managing the flow of power across the 80% of California’s high-voltage transmission system that it is charged with operating to maintain electric reliability. In addition to managing the high voltage transmission system, the CAISO establishes market mechanisms designed to facilitate a competitive and transparent wholesale power market for electric reliability products.

Looking forward, the CAISO anticipates significant challenges. The quantity of intermittent renewable resources in the state’s power supply portfolio, especially wind and solar, is increasing rapidly. Meanwhile, a significant portion of the state’s aging fleet of natural gas power plants is in need of replacement or retrofit. With the advent of a robust electric vehicle fleet, it is likely that the state’s hourly electric profile will change markedly over the next decade, requiring substantial changes to the current mix and operations of the state’s electric generation resources.

Why is this a water-energy nexus opportunity?

The most valuable power resource in the future wholesale market will be flexible.  Water and wastewater agencies have the unique ability to substantially change the amount, time and place of their electric consumption. By building flexibility into their systems and operations, water and wastewater agencies will be able to provide valuable real-time support to the electric grid, both by increasing and decreasing their electric demand as needed to help maintain voltage stability.