New technology to optimize renewable energy resources, lower costs
A group of energy companies serving electricity to roughly 50 million people across a wide geographic region in the Southeastern U.S. have come together to propose the creation of a centralized, automated, intra-hour energy exchange called the Southeast Energy Exchange Market (SEEM). This platform aims to lower costs to customers and optimize renewable energy resources.
The companies involved intend to file for approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by the end of the year and to begin operations as early as fourth quarter 2021. A courtesy preview of the coming FERC filing was provided today to the North Carolina Utilities Commission and the Public Service Commission of South Carolina.
Founding members of SEEM are expected to include Associated Electric Cooperative, Dalton Utilities, Dominion Energy South Carolina, Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress, ElectriCities of North Carolina, Georgia System Operations Corporation, Georgia Transmission Corporation, LG&E and KU Energy, MEAG Power, NCEMC, Oglethorpe Power Corp., PowerSouth, Santee Cooper, Southern Company, and TVA. Participation in SEEM is open to other entities that meet the appropriate requirements. Some utility commitments will take place following FERC approval.
SEEM is a 15-minute energy market, the first of its kind for the region, that will use technology and advanced market systems to automatically match participants with low-cost energy to serve customers across a wide geographic area.
The new SEEM platform will facilitate sub-hourly, bilateral trading, allowing participants to buy and sell power close to the time the energy is consumed, utilizing available unreserved transmission. The exchange is an extension of the existing bilateral market.
The result will be cost savings while improving the integration of all energy resources, including renewables, which are expanding rapidly in the Southeast, leading to a cleaner, greener, more robust electricity system.
As part of their evaluation, SEEM members performed a detailed study to assess the costs and benefits of forming such a platform.
An independent third-party consultant estimated the platform’s total benefits to members and their retail customers range from $40 million to $50 million annually in the near-term, potentially growing to $100 million to $150 million annually in later years as more solar and other variable energy resources are added.
After validating the concept of forming this market with the study, SEEM members discussed the potential structure and benefits with numerous energy regulators, policy makers, consumer advocates, non-governmental organizations, energy associations, solar developers and business customers. Feedback helped strengthen the platform agreement by adding more transparency measures.
Importantly, SEEM members maintain local control of their generation and transmission assets and participation is voluntary. Many of the member companies operate within state guidelines and directives, so having full control over their respective generation and transmission resources is an important governing requirement.