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SPP Lines Up More Prospects for Western Service

3 min read

Southwest Power Pool, the regional electricity transmission organization headquartered in Little Rock, has announced six new power entities exploring participating in a service called Markets+, an effort to develop a valuable and reliable market design for the Pacific Northwest.

Five of the new entities are in Washington State, and one, Powerex Corp. of Vancouver, is in Canada. The Washington utilities are Altavista Corp. of Spokane, the Chelan County Public Utility District, the Grant County Public Utility District, Tacoma Power and Puget Sound Energy of Bellevue.

The companies and agencies declared their intent to work with SPP to develop a western market that “supports reliability and delivers value to our customers,” according to an SPP news release. “We are very encouraged by the governance and market design progress for Markets+ over the past several months, which has been achieved through SPP’s collaborative, stakeholder-driven approach,” Powerex President and CEO Tom Bechard said in a statement.

Since December 2021, SPP has been working with western stakeholders to learn what they’d like to see out of a proposed day-ahead and real-time market. Based on responses from potential customers, SPP will develop the Markets+ draft service offering, which will explain how the service would address governance structure, market design and transmission availability, among other priorities.

Earlier this month, the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency serving nearly 3 million people in the Pacific Northwest, was the first western utility to formally commit to funding further development of SPP’s Markets+.

“SPP is encouraged by this group of entities’ commitment to further the development of our Markets+ service,” SPP President and CEO Barbara Sugg said in the release. “By participating in this process, we are working together to build Markets+ on a strong foundation of input from western stakeholders, ensuring the market meets the needs of the West and brings value to all participants.”

The entities represent a well-connected footprint with extensive transmission capability, a large fleet of clean, flexible hydroelectric resources, and a peak load over 30,000 megawatts, which is already 50% larger than the smallest RTO, ISO-New England.

Markets+ is a bundle of services proposed by SPP that would centralize day-ahead and real-time power commitment and dispatching, provide hurdle-free transmission service and pave the way to reliably integrate a growing fleet of renewable generation sources. For utilities that see value in these services but who aren’t ready to pursue full membership in a regional transmission organization (RTO) at this time, Markets+ provides a voluntary, incremental opportunity to realize significant benefits.

Members of the SPP staff met with western stakeholders Aug. 9-10 in Portland, Oregon, to review work done on the service offering and discuss outstanding items and next steps. The draft service offering will be distributed Sept. 30, followed by a public comment period, with the final service offering set to be distributed November 18. Interested parties will make a commitment to fund further market development in early 2023.

SPP is a not-for-profit corporation under a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission mandate to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale energy prices for its members. It manages the electric grid across 17 central and Western states.

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