Southwest Power Pool, the electric grid operator based in Little Rock, predicts that its power-producing capacity will meet this summer’s needs in its 14-state footprint in the central U.S.
For June through September, the regional transmission organization predicts a peak demand of 51.1 gigawatts of power, but SPP says the “diverse fleet” of member utilities’ generating plants — fueled by wind, natural gas, coal and sun — are prepared to provide at least 55.5 megawatts.
But there is a caveat, the nonprofit corporation said. While SPP expects sufficient resources to meet demand, its summer assessment released Thursday found potential local issues it hopes to address with entities serving overloaded regions, including utilities in Oklahoma.
In a statement, SPP said it would also work to resolve “potential fuel-supply constraints” with generator owners and operators case by case.
“SPP’s job is to prepare for both expected and unexpected scenarios that could affect electric reliability across our region,” SPP Senior Vice President of Operations Bruce Rew said in the statement. “We work closely with our member utilities to make sure our forecasts are as dependable as they can be, and then maintain contingency plans and monitor the regional grid around the clock so we can respond quickly and effectively if things don’t go as planned.”
He said the 18 million consumers in SPP’s region depend on reliable service, “and we do everything in our power to responsibly and economically keep the lights on.”
The summer assessment summary discovered other factors worth SPP study, including:
- Planned and unplanned outages of both generating units and the high voltage transmission lines that deliver electricity from where it’s produced to local distribution systems where it’s delivered to homes, businesses and industrial customers.
- Drought conditions that will impact the SPP footprint and are likely to lead to increased irrigation loads: Electricity is needed to power the equipment used to water crops, and decreases in precipitation generally lead to increased electricity use.
- Assumptions regarding availability of wind energy based on last year’s minimum wind output.
- A “high load summer model” that assumes electricity use will peak above SPP’s record demand. SPP’s record peak demand is 51,037 megawatts (MW).
On Thursday, SPP declared a Resource Advisory effective May 13-14 in response to higher-than-normal temperatures and other factors. The advisory requires no action on behalf of the general public but is meant to alert generation and transmission operators to circumstances that could require action to prevent shortfalls.
When weather, fuel-supply or other conditions create potential impacts to reliability, SPP publishes updates here.