Railbelt Collaboration

MEA is committed to exploring collaborative opportunities with our fellow Railbelt utilities to achieve mutual benefits for our members. MEA members currently benefit from an informal power market called a ‘loose power pool’ where utilities voluntarily buy and sell power when it is more economic to do so.  MEA is participating in discussions with two main questions.

1: How can MEA deliver the lowest cost power to our members at any given time?

2: How can the Railbelt utilize MEA’s new power plant to benefit MEA members and other consumers?

There are currently two other models under consideration, a Unified/Independent System Operator (USO/ISO) and Transco. While these kinds of organizations are common in the lower 48, MEA is in discussions with our Railbelt colleagues and other stakeholders to better define what they would look like for our smaller system and analyzing modeling data to understand if the benefits would outweigh the costs.

Reliability and Planning – in discussion

As an active participant in ARCTEC (Alaska Railbelt Cooperative Transmission and Electric Company), MEA is participating in discussions around system-wide upgrades to achieve increased reliability and regional planning for the state’s largest interconnected grid. ARCTEC’s goal is to develop an organization that would manage and enforce Railbelt reliability standards, conduct Railbelt system planning and ensure open access.  This organization could eventually fulfill the role of a system operator for the Railbelt. ARCTEC is working with GDS, Associates Inc. (a third party coordinator), utilities and other stakeholders throughout 2018 to define the best model to serve the Railbelt.

Link to ARCTEC’s Reliability and Planning Project: http://arctec.coop/railbelt-reliability-and-planning/

Loose Power Pool – currently operating

MEA has been an active participant in a ‘Loose Pool’ power market – buying and selling more economic power between almost all of the other Railbelt utilities.  The Railbelt collaboration in conducting these transactions has been unprecedented, and MEA members have benefited directly due to these sales.

Eklutna Generation Station (EGS) has a unique design which allows MEA to economically provide power in small increments. This flexibility allows us to meet varying demand needs quickly and effectively in contrast to more traditional power plants which contain fewer, large engines and more economically produce power in larger increments.

Click the graphic below to see how the loose power pool system operates.

Loose Pool

Transco – in discussion

The Transco model provides one entity to run the transmission network for the Railbelt – a toll road for long distance energy movement. MEA has been participating fully in the Transco Working Group discussions since 2015.  MEA’s participation in a  Transco model will depend on how the resulting model would impact our members’ rates.   MEA is open to any solution that lowers costs and increases reliability for our members.