In the U.S. West, some grid operators are promising that a new structure will make it easier to boost clean energy penetration while also reducing costs.

The new entity under development is called an energy imbalance market, which would allow different balancing authorities – the companies or organizations responsible for keeping energy supply and demand in sync in a defined area – to share generation resources and do so nearly in real-time. This could be of particular benefit in making sure variable renewables like wind and solar can find a place on the grid, and do so at the lowest possible cost.

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