California ISO Launches the Most Advanced Grid Operating System

October 20, 2019 by Paul Shepard

At the same time that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) was inflicting rolling blackouts on large parts of the state, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) upgraded its power grid operating technology, making it the most advanced in the industry.

The California ISO network is a long-distance, high-voltage transmission system that delivers wholesale electricity to local utilities for distribution to 30 million customers. The ISO grid is one of the largest in the world, encompassing three quarters of California and a small portion of Nevada, delivering over 260 million MWhrs of electricity each year.

Every five minutes, the ISO forecasts electrical demand and dispatches the lowest cost generator to meet demand while ensuring enough transmission capacity for delivery of power.

The ISO opened its two California control centers in 1998 as the state restructured its wholesale electricity industry. While utilities still own transmission assets, the ISO controls the routing of electrons, maximizing transmission system efficiency and generation resources, and supervising maintenance of the lines. As the nerve center for the power grid, the ISO matches buyers and sellers of electricity, facilitating over 28,000 market transactions every day to ensure enough power is on hand to meet demand.

The new Siemens Spectrum Power™ 7 energy management system was launched into the ISO’s grid environment, following five years of study, competitive bidding, design, and implementation. The system upgrade is intended to better serve ISO customers, while meeting the challenges of an evolving energy landscape.

“The ISO now has the most sophisticated energy management system in the world,” said ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich. “The new system aligns with our strategic vision and goals to maintain a reliable grid while expanding leading-edge tools and services to support our participating transmission owners, and the Western Energy Imbalance Market and RC West participants.”

Moving to the Siemens product improves grid power flow accuracy; supports market enhancements and network applications and allows for broader renewable energy integration. The new system also enhances operators’ situational awareness; offers operational flexibility with frequent model changes; and upgrades critical infrastructure protection.

Spectrum Power 7 is a modular intelligent distributed control center system. Capabilities include:

  • Enable high-penetration renewables
  • Meet government renewable targets
  • Provide reliability to critical network segments

Spectrum Power 7 runs on Linux and was developed for energy management in power transmission and distribution systems as well as for controlling railway power supply systems. It allows an optimal system configuration for the special needs of the customer.