ISO-NE Pay for Performance starts June 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The operator of New England's electric grid and wholesale electricity markets has adopted a new design for its capacity market, called “Pay For Performance” or PFP, which will become effective on June 1, 2018. As of that date, capacity payments will reward power resources that make investments to successfully boost performance during periods of system stress, while resources that don’t perform will forfeit capacity payments. According to grid operator ISO New England, Inc., these capacity market reforms represent “a significant evolution of the Forward Capacity Market.”

Since 2008, ISO-NE has operated a wholesale market for electric capacity, in addition to markets for energy and ancillary services. According to the grid operator, its Forward Capacity Market (FCM) ensures that the New England power system will have sufficient resources to meet the future demand for electricity. The market design features annual Forward Capacity Auctions held three years in advance of the operating period, in which resources compete to obtain a commitment to supply capacity in exchange for a market-priced capacity payment.

ISO-NE first proposed a version of PFP in 2014 as a means to address what it characterized as "capacity resource performance issues in New England." According to an article by ISO-NE's chief executive officer, ISO-NE felt that the prevailing capacity market design increasingly failed to incentivize resource performance during times of system stress. The grid operator reported "escalating incidents of poor generator performance that have threatened bulk power system reliability," and identified a "broken linkage" between capacity payments and actual performance under the previous rules.

According to ISO-NE, its Pay for Performance reform "firmly connects capacity payments to resource performance." It is designed to increase financial incentives for resource owners to make investments to ensure their resource’s reliability during periods of scarcity.

The Pay for Performance market design is based on a “two-settlement approach” such as is used in forward markets for electricity and other commodities.

In a first stage, a market participant takes on a Capacity Supply Obligation – a forward obligation to provide a specified amount of capacity from its resource – in exchange for a Capacity Base Payment. That base payment is determined by multiplying the resource’s Capacity Supply Obligation (in megawatts) by the relevant clearing price – either the clearing price from a Forward Capacity Auction or reconfiguration auction, or a bilateral contract price. Once a market participant has taken on a Capacity Supply Obligation in exchange for the Capacity Base Payment, the participant has a physical, resource-specific obligation to cover a share of the system’s energy and reserve requirements during reserve deficiencies.

In a second stage, the participant is subject to a settlement for deviations from its committed share. Under PFP, this second payment, which can be positive or negative, is called the Capacity Performance Payment. If a resource delivers more than its share of the system’s requirements during a capacity scarcity condition, it will be paid an additional amount for that incremental production; if it delivers less than its share, it must “buy out” of its position by paying other resources that did deliver.

Tariff revisions were accepted by the FERC in 2014 and 2015, and ISO-NE has subsequently developed further changes to its tariff to implement the program. The revised tariff is scheduled to take effect on June 1, 2018.

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