Today, two-thirds of the country’s consumers are powered by electricity purchased through wholesale markets where pricing is based on supply and demand and rapidly fluctuates throughout the day—fluctuations that in turn ripple down to affect consumer energy bills. As more clean and renewable resources come into the market, creating more flexible and efficient markets would not only ensure a reliable supply of electricity, but also help keep prices low for consumers. Regional and state-level utilities have valuable perspectives on how to improve markets to address this, but many currently lack the resources or training to meaningfully participate in market development. 

Administered by the Grid Deployment Office, the Wholesale Electricity Market Studies and Engagement Program (WEMSE) provides states and regions with technical and financial assistance related to developing, expanding, and improving wholesale electricity markets. This engagement will ensure these stakeholders are able to provide critical insight into market design, expansion, and improvement activities.   

On September 29, 2023, the Grid Deployment Office released a $9 million WEMSE funding opportunity announcement to provided technical and financial assistance to states and regional system operators to perform analytical studies and ensure meaningful engagement in market activities, including interregional transmission planning. Activities under this program could include performing analytical studies on critical market issues, convening stakeholders, or increasing a state or region’s capacity to engage in market design reform efforts and stakeholder planning processes at a regional level. 

Private industry and national labs who receive funding through this program are required to collaborate with a state or regional system operator, or a coalition of states or regional organizations. Applications for proposed development or deployment of technologies (e.g., electric generation, transmission or distribution innovations to be deployed on the grid) will not be considered.  

The WEMSE program will include three rounds of funding. The deadline for concept papers for the first round of WEMSE funding closed November 17. Subsequent rounds of funding will open in 2024. The multiple rounds of funding are intended to afford states, market operators, and other wholesale market stakeholders the time to develop coalitions and coordinate joint applications as appropriate.