Southwest Power Pool, which oversees the electric power grid for much of the middle United States, on Thursday launched its bulk electricity reliability coordination service for more than a dozen power entities farther west.
With headquarters in Little Rock, SPP has provided grid reliability services for more than 20 years. The western utilities it added to its client list this week include Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, Colorado Springs Utilities, the El Paso Electric Co., Intermountain Rural Electric, the Platte River Power Authority, Public Service Co. of Colorado, Tucson Electric Power, Tri-State Generation & Transmission, Black Hills Energy's three electric utilities (Black Hills Power Inc.; Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power; and Black Hills Colorado Electric) and four utilities overseen by the Western Area Power Administration of Lakewood, Colorado.
SPP replaces Peak Reliability of Vancouver, Washington, as the bulk power reliability coordinator for all those system. The company, which had been reliability coordinator for the Western Interconnection, announced in July 2018 that it would cease operations at the end of this year. At the same time, SPP announced its plans to go west. SPP said in a news release that it worked closely with Peak Reliability to smooth the transition.
“SPP staff has worked with stakeholders for more than a year to carefully develop and implement RC services for western entities,” said Bruce Rew, SPP's senior vice president of operations. “SPP is proud to be the first regional transmission organization to provide RC services in both the Eastern and Western interconnections.”
The Western Area Power Administrator and CEO, Mark A. Gabriel, called it "an orderly and seamless transition." He said, as the Western energy industry continues to change, "we remain committed to working with our customers and neighboring utilities to create a safe, secure, reliable and economical future.”
To start the service, SPP established data connections to new customers in the West, built out systems and processes to ensure of the Western Interconnection bulk power system, and worked with all customers and stakeholders to make sure they were prepared for the transition.
Shane Sanders, Arizona Electric Power Cooperative’s executive director of system operations, described SPP as "very professional and patient" in working with AEPCO staff members. "AEPCO appreciates the level of detail required to bring in the project on time and on budget without any unexpected surprises or hurdles.”
With the launch of reliability coordination in the West, SPP is laying the foundation for additional services in its Western Energy Services portfolio. SPP now administers the Western Interconnection Unscheduled Flow Mitigation Plan for six western utilities. In 2021, it plans to launch the Western Energy Imbalance Service (WEIS) market, providing wholesale electricity and enhanced reliability to western participants.
“We’re thrilled to have reached this major milestone in the evolution of our services,” SPP President and CEO Nick Brown said. “We look forward now to the next steps: proving our value as a reliability coordinator, creating savings by launching markets in the West, and earning the trust of new customers interested in reliable, affordable service and SPP’s record of success.”