Montana’s NorthWestern Energy joins Western Energy Imbalance Market

Published on June 24, 2021 by Chris Galford

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The California Independent System Operator’s (ISO) Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) reached consumers in Montana last week with the inclusion of NorthWestern Energy.

NorthWestern operates a utility in the Big Sky Country that provides a nearly 70 percent carbon-free portfolio, flowing through more than 6,800 miles of transmission lines and 18,000 distribution lines. Its participation in the Western EIM became effective on June 16, 2021.

“Our participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market will provide our customers with economically efficient energy to resolve imbalances and variations in load and generation on our Montana system,” Joe Stimatz, manager of asset optimization for NorthWestern Energy, said.

Additionally, the inclusion allows for EIM to provide service to 10 states. NorthWestern joined eight other utilities in the endeavor, but the Western EIM noted that by 2023, it intends for 22 active participants to represent more than 83 percent of its load.

“We are very pleased to welcome NorthWestern Energy into the family of Western EIM entities,” Elliot Mainzer, California ISO president and CEO, said. “This new partnership with NorthWestern will add regional diversity and diverse resources into the real-time energy market and provide additional economic and environmental value to consumers in Montana and across the West.”

The Western EIM has been in operation since 2014. To date, it has provided $1.28 billion in cumulative gross benefits to participants, thanks to its efforts to provide low-cost energy, enhance reliability, and cut greenhouse gas emissions. It now reaches into parts of Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana.