Regional Power Grid Manager Plans $62.5M Office Project In WLR

by George Waldon  on Monday, Mar. 1, 2010 12:00 am  

As utilities have become more interconnected under deregulation, the desire has grown to centralize functions that previously the companies performed individually.

As Southwest Power Pool began taking on more of those duties, its staff has grown accordingly. In 1997, employment increased from 30 to 116 as the company took on security coordination chores.

In 1998, tariff administration boosted its work force to more than 200. Regional scheduling in 2001, oversight of a multistate transmission grid in 2004 and contract services in 2006 also added jobs.

About 18 months ago, Southwest Power Pool began working internally with its finance committee to study options to meet the company's growing needs for operational space.

"This is the time to start evaluating options for owned property versus leased property," Brown said. "Now that we know we're going to be a large-staffed organization, it's time to look at developing our own campus."

Roots in WWII

The legacy of Southwest Power Pool dates back to Dec. 14, 1941, as America geared for World War II.

The organization was formed to pool regional electricity to expand bauxite production in Arkansas to help feed the wartime demand for aluminum.

The Jones Mill plant alone needed 120,000 kilowatts to operate around the clock when the state's entire generation capability totaled 100,000 kilowatts.

Southwest Power Pool provided the logistical link for 11 power companies to supply the needed juice for the Jones Mill plant and the state during the war. The arrangement worked so well that it lived on, helping coordinate regional peacetime energy services.

Southwest Power Pool existed as a handshake organization for more than 50 years until it became a legal corporate entity in 1994.



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