Out West student blog

Not the Heroes We Deserve, but the Heroes We Need

The MID Incredibles participating in the annual ISO Olympics. (Photo credit: Eric Kim)

By Carlos Ciudad-Real
Environmental Systems Engineering '20
Market Policy Intern, California Independent System Operator (CAISO)

 

 

During my time at the California Independent System Operator, one moment in particular stuck with me. It took place during a lunch Q&A with the CAISO President and CEO, Steve Berberich. While he was giving the interns career advice, he told us to focus on how a company treats its people when looking for a job. As my internship draws to a close and I reflect upon my experiences, I can’t help but say that the ISO treats all of its people, including me, with great care.

Even when the Market and Infrastructure Policy isn’t suiting up in t-shirts and masks, they are still performing heroics by crafting policy for arguably the most important energy entity in the West.

A prime example of how the ISO does this is the ISO Olympics that took place just last week. This event is meant to build teamwork and inclusiveness. Luckily, I was able to represent my team, the MID Incredibles, at one of the competitions. Although we did not fare very well in the overall competition, I do feel that we did grow as a team. I had no idea that my summer at the CAISO would include this level of heroism!

Average energy transfers in the EIM during 2017. (Image credit: CAISO)

Even when the Market and Infrastructure Policy isn’t suiting up in t-shirts and masks, they are still performing heroics by crafting policy for arguably the most important energy entity in the West. The policies that they make do not just affect Californians, they also affect the people who live in any of the 7 other Balancing Authorities that participate in CAISO’s Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). This energy market allows different regions to transfer excess energy production to other regions or to import energy when needed.

Because the CAISO manages this market, our policies can directly affect EIM participants so applicable policies need to be approved by the EIM’s 5 member governing board when appropriate. So far, the EIM has found tremendous success by saving ratepayers money, preventing excess renewable energy from being wasted and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The ISO’s importance to the West’s energy landscape is why I feel so privileged to be a part of its policymaking processes.

All in all, I am leaving the ISO with a reaffirmed interest in using my engineering education for the public good. I see public service as an even more viable career option.

This summer, I laid the groundwork for the ISO to enhance its procurement of operating reserves. I am in the process of finishing an issue paper that will inform readers of the ISO’s current policies regarding reserves and the potential issues with their solutions. I also worked on data analysis of market data to determine how big of a problem operating reserves are. This turned out be more challenging than we were anticipating and I will likely not be able to analyze data for an entire year. However, I will be able to see results for the winter months of 2018.

All in all, I am leaving the ISO with a reaffirmed interest in using my engineering education for the public good. I see public service as an even more viable career option, and I am planning to take more courses in policy and economics to better prepare myself. This summer was an experience that I will look back to when making important career decisions.

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