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New technology to lower costs for consumers, optimize renewable energy resources

By Nelson Peeler
Senior vice president of transmission and fuels strategy and policy

A group of energy companies serving electricity to roughly 50 million people across a wide footprint in the Southeast have come together to propose the creation of a centralized, automated, intra-hour energy exchange. This platform aims to lower costs to customers and optimize renewable energy resources.

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 find low-cost energy to serve customers across a wide geographic area.

If approved, the new Southeast Energy Exchange Market (SEEM) platform will facilitate sub-hourly, bi-lateral trading, allowing participants to buy and sell power close to the time the energy consumed utilizing available unreserved transmission. The exchange is an extension of the existing bi-lateral market.

The result will be cost savings for customers, while improving the integration of renewables and other energy resources. Renewables are expanding rapidly in the Southeast, and better coordinating how companies can deploy them leads to a cleaner and more robust energy 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 grid operators and 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 with the study, SEEM members discussed the potential structure and benefits with numerous 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.

Participation in SEEM is voluntary, and the companies involved are planning to file for approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by the end of the year.

Founding members of the SEEM are expected to include Associated Electric Cooperative Inc., Dalton Utilities, Dominion Energy South Carolina, Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress, ElectriCities of North Carolina, Inc., 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.