Brian Conlon

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Brian Conlon helps clients design energy policies and strategies that result in greater efficiency. He works closely with balancing authorities throughout the western U.S. to calibrate production simulation models and replicate real-world operations for studies investigating the benefits of participating in the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). The resulting insights have guided E3 clients in their decision to join the EIM, which will support renewable energy deployment on their systems and save ratepayers millions of dollars.

Brian, who joined E3 in 2015, has also analyzed the impact of incentive programs on the adoption and costs of solar photovoltaic technology. He’s particularly interested in production simulation models because they provide insight into electricity markets that is grounded in a comprehensive, bottom-up representation of grid operations.

Education: BS, environmental studies, and BA, German, with minors in economics and political science, University of Tennessee


Evaluating benefits of regional market participation | Multiple utilities, 2014–present

E3 has completed studies for more than 10 utilities on the costs and benefits of participating in the western energy imbalance market (EIM), a regional 5-minute balancing market that became operational in 2014. The EIM aims to lower costs for consumers and assist states in meeting renewable energy goals through more-efficient dispatch, which reduces the need to carry costly reserves and curtail renewable generation. For each study, we ran a production simulation grounded in a detailed representation of the utility’s system. Our work has informed decisions by PacifiCorp, Arizona Public Service, NV Energy, and other utilities to join the EIM, as well as Chelan County Public Utility District’s decision not to participate. Consistent with E3 findings, the California ISO estimated that participants saved more than $85 million in the 20 months after the EIM became operational. Several more studies for utilities are under way.


Modeling benefits of the Western EIM | WECC, 2011

The Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC) engaged E3 to model the benefits of implementing an energy imbalance market (EIM) across the Western Interconnection. Working with WECC staff and many stakeholders, we modeled and compared simulated production costs for a scenario that maintained existing operational arrangements and a second scenario with a consolidated regional balancing market. The analysis found benefits from improved system dispatch, as well as from reductions in operating reserves needed to accommodate wind and solar variability. E3 devised an innovative technique to more accurately estimate the potential impact of the EIM, and pioneered applying “hurdle rates” to calibrate the GridView production simulation base case so that it more accurately reflected bidding and dispatch practices in the West. Since presenting our findings to WECC in 2011, we have developed similar EIM cost-benefit studies for 10 additional utilities.


Assessing benefits and challenges of the Western EIM

he grid in the western U.S. is a patchwork of 38 balancing authorities. Each balances its loads and resources independently, exchanging energy through bilateral trades. This inefficient system is being strained with the growing presence of variable resources such as wind and solar. In 2011, the Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC) engaged E3 to quantify […]

Avoided Cost Model for evaluating DER programs | CPUC, 2004–present

Since 2004, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has used E3’s Avoided Cost Model (ACM) to estimate the benefits of energy efficiency, distributed generation, energy storage, and other distributed energy resources (DERs). The ACM has evolved along with energy markets and policy in the West, and it currently projects avoided costs for energy, losses, generation capacity, ancillary services, subtransmission and distribution capacity, renewable portfolio standard purchases, carbon allowances, and other air permit costs. The 30-year hourly forecast is differentiated across California’s 16 climate zones.

The CPUC approves over $1 billion in annual funding for DERs using these avoided costs for its cost-effectiveness tests. The ACM is suitable for stakeholder processes and contentious regulatory proceedings because it uses robust methods and publicly available input data. E3 also allows the download of the ACM so that all stakeholders can audit any of the calculations.



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