A reliability coordinator maintains the real time stability of the electrical grid within its area in coordination with other RCs, balancing authorities, transmission operators and generation operators. To accomplish the job requires a high-degree of sharing real-time data and compatibility of communications across different entities.
At midnight on the first of November, Bonneville Power Administration transitioned to a new reliability coordinator. The move from Peak Reliability to RC West culminated nearly two years of evaluation, planning and implementation. An RC is essentially the top cop for transmission reliability across a wide geographic area. It uses real time data to monitor and predict the operation of the grid to direct corrective actions when necessary to ensure stability of the grid and reduce the risk for power outages. The use of an RC is a mandated by the North American Electrical Reliability Corporation and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council.“We still have work ahead of us as we continue to build on our relationship with RC West, but I am very proud of the team and their sustained hard work that got us to a reliable transition in our reliability coordinator," said Michelle Cathcart, vice president of Transmission System Operations.BPA completed two months of “shadow operations" with RC West in September and October, basically operating and testing its functionality with the new RC coordinator while Peak Reliability remained the reliability coordinator of record. The development of common data sharing and modeling with RC West gives BPA a stronger foundation for implementing our potential participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market and likely will result in savings of time and money. Both RC West and the Western EIM are administered by the California Independent System Operator.“The transition to RC West went as we had hoped," said Troy Simpson, the program manager for the transition. “We continue to work on the remaining issues, like transitioning all the data that Peak currently provides to data sourced at RC West." Peak will continue to provide some data to BPA through Dec. 3, when it ceases operations.“Peak has played an essential role throughout this transition for BPA," Cathcart said. “Peak's unwavering commitment to reliability has been crucial to the success and continued reliable operation of the Bulk Electric System in the Western Interconnection. “And I am confident our collaboration with RC West and CAISO will further build on that legacy of reliable delivery of service to our customers and the Northwest."From Simpson's perspective, the effort to translate the data that BPA and Peak have used into a form more accessible to RC West is paying off.“Transitioning to RC West has given us the opportunity to integrate our data across multiple systems, which will help us with future automation efforts," he said. The transition was part of BPA's grid modernization effort and included a multidisciplinary team of more than 100 employees across the agency addressing the technological requirements, data integration and process changes necessary to interface with the new reliability coordinator.“This is an outstanding accomplishment by the RC Transition Team," said Richard Shaheen, the senior vice president of Transmission Services. “Our people worked through numerous technical challenges in order to deliver a transition that can be characterized by two words: safe and reliable." RC West, operated by the California Independent System Operator, began providing RC services in July, primarily in California. It now provides oversight of electric grid reliability for 41 balancing authorities and transmission operators across 14 western states and northern Mexico. With the addition of RC West's expanded footprint on November 1, the reliability coordinator will now account for the reliability of 87% of the load in the western United States.