CMPAS Members Experience the Benefits of Scheduling Power

Scheduling is the kind of everyday functionality you rely on when you need transportation: making airport reservations, finding train and bus routes, or using Uber and Lyft apps. There are many logistics to consider and numerous tools necessary to keep planes, trains, buses, and cars running on schedule.

That’s a comparable way to consider the power-markets scheduling done by Andy Ristau, Ben Nelson, and Chad Hanson, who work at our headquarters in Blue Earth. As long as the lights go on in Kenyon, Kasson, Janesville, Sleepy Eye, and beyond, “ABC,” as the trio is known around the office, have done their job.

“First thing we do when we come in each morning is check the weather forecast and ensure that all our SCADA connections are working properly,” said Andy, an Energy Analyst. “Then we work on scheduling our contracted resources, like our 5 x 16 energy contracts, wind contracts, the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) contract, the Nebraska City Unit 2 generator in Nebraska, and others.”

Contracted resources account for about 75% of the power that gets delivered to CMPAS members.

Using these contracted resources and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) market, we schedule a forecasted energy amount to each member every day. The value of that power or energy portfolio in 2019 was about $13.4 million.

Andy, Ben, and Chad also check the transmission service requests before they begin scheduling to ensure there is adequate capacity to transmit the requested power.

Most of the remaining 25 percent of power delivered to members, valued at about $2.3 million annually, comes from the MISO power market.

CMMPA transacts in two wholesale market/regional transmission organizations (RTOs) – MISO and the Southwest Power Pool. These organized power markets allow Andy, Ben, and Chad to do their work in a marketplace facilitated by organizations that operate the bulk power system and corresponding energy markets designed to deliver reliable and economically efficient outcomes.

What Andy, Ben, and Chad do is one of the clearest examples of the economies of scale that CMMPA provides to its members. The team of three schedule power for 12 member cities. If the cities had to do that themselves, they’d each have to hire one full-time employee or engage an outside contractor. In either case, with 12 people scheduling power for 12 cities, operating efficiencies would be lost, and costs would go up.

CMPAS power schedulers work closely with our economist and resource planner to develop plans for our members, which considers power pricing, load information, and cost-effective options that meet each member’s long-term power supply needs. This planning and scheduling of power is helping members bring much needed power to their communities. It’s on time, on schedule, and on budget.