UPDATE: Southwest Power Pool to Spend $1.7 Billion to Grow Network

The board of directors of Southwest Power Pool Inc. of Little Rock on Friday approved a multi-year transmission expansion plan, with projects estimated at about $1.7 billion in engineering and construction costs.

The bulk of the plan, to take place over 10 years, calls for more than 900 miles of new transmission lines and 15 transformers. It is expected to generate $834 million in net regional savings over 40 years.

The projects, which cost a total of about $1.5 billion, are designed to resolve reliability issues, enable states to meet renewable goals or targets and cut CO2 emissions, and provide regional energy savings.

A map detailing the 10-year expansion shows Arkansas getting most of plan's allotment of 500kv lines in northwest and southwest Arkansas, along with 345kv lines in northwest Arkansas. Some rebuild and conversion work is also taking place in the region near Farmington.

The plan puts 15 transformers in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.

Click here (PDF) to view the map.

"A well-planned, robust transmission grid gives us the flexibility to move energy from diverse generating resources to where it's needed across the region and beyond," said Lanny Nickell, SPP's vice president of engineering.

"Adding more lanes to the transmission highway will improve our ability to provide the least-cost power to consumers and strengthen grid reliability so power is always there when we need it."

Another part of the plan includes construction of $251 million in new transmission projects over the next five years.

SPP, a nonprofit regional transmission organization, provides services to 65 members in the electricity utility industry in nine states. 

Earlier this month, SPP said it would add 50 new positions this year at its three sites in Little Rock and Maumelle. Meanwhile, construction is scheduled to be complete this spring on its new $62 million corporate office center in west Little Rock, bringing all SPP's employees to one location.