The IRC: Shaping Our Energy Future

By sharing innovative ideas and real-world best practices, IRC members work together to build a smarter and more efficient electric grid that’s well prepared to serve the North American power market and its consumers, today and tomorrow.

The role of ISOs and RTOs

Ever wonder what ISOs/RTOs actually do?

From integrating a diverse mix of power resources onto the electric grid reliably, to orchestrating the generation and transmission of electricity for two-thirds of North America, ISOs and RTOs match power generation instantaneously with demand to keep the lights on.

Harnessing a commodity and then moving it at the speed of light across thousands of miles of high-voltage wires involves sophisticated coordination among utilities, energy generators and other resource suppliers, as well as consumers. The ultimate goal is to ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable power – made possible through efficient administration of independent and transparent wholesale energy markets.

ISO and RTO innovation supports the latest advancements in smart grid technologies, improving the resiliency and reliability of the grid, making energy transmission more efficient, smarter and cost effective.

IRC History

  • 1978:  Federal Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act initiates deregulation.
  • 1992:  National Energy Policy Act expands boundaries for competing companies.
  • Mid-90s:  Many North American regions push for wholesale competition as a way to create equal access to the transmission system and provide consumers with a choice of energy suppliers.
  • 1996:  Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues Orders 888 and 889 opening access to transmission power grids.
  • 1998:  The first independent grid operators began opening doors to electricity competition.
  • 2003:  ISOs and RTOs join forces to create an industry-wide collaboration called the ISO/RTO Council (IRC).
  • Today:  Nine ISOs/RTOs serve two-thirds of electricity consumers in the United States and more than 50 percent of Canada’s population. Using the most advanced technologies and industry practices, IRC regional markets consistently outperform those in areas under monopoly control.