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SPP Sees Wind as Top Electricity Generator for 2020

2 min read

Southwest Power Pool, the nonprofit regional power transmission organization, buried the lead in its report on this month’s quarterly meetings in Little Rock, its headquarters.

The grid management group for much of the mid-United States expects wind to be its top fuel source for electricity generation this year. Wind power and other renewable sources have been a growing part of the generation mix for the corporation, which manages the grid and wholesale power markets across 17 central and western U.S. states.

Bruce Rew, senior vice president of operations for the corporation, said he expected wind “to be our No. 1 fuel source for 2020.”

“We continue to see a big increase in wind energy, with 3.6 gigawatts of new installed wind this quarter alone,” Rew said in a company statement.

Over the course of the meetings, SPP’s board and stakeholders reviewed plans for new transmission efforts and plotted strategy for real-time grid operations and administration of the wholesale power market.

One result was an integrated transmission plan, hashed out over 27 months of collaborations, calling for 54 projects, including 92 miles of 345-kilovolt lines. The upgrades, SPP said, will solve issues on the power grid and reduce wholesale energy congestion costs. Those savings would translate into 30 cents a month on an average electric bill.

“Each year we are more effective in aligning our transmission plans with the huge changes we’ve seen in our region’s generation mix,” SPP Vice President of Engineering Antoine Lucas said in a news release. “These upgrades will bring tremendous value and leverage our stakeholders’ existing investments in transmission and renewable energy.”

The board also approved recommendations for Transource Missouri LLC to build what is known as the Sooner-Wekiwa project, a 75-mile 345-kilovolt line in Oklahoma, at a cost of $66 million. That work would be completed in 2026. An independent expert panel evaluated the project through a competitive transmission owner selection process, SPP said, noting that competition is a requirement under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules. The SPP approved Xcel Energy Southwest Transmission Co. as an alternate builder for the transmission project.

In other business, SPP reported that its Western Energy Imbalance Service market remains on track for launching in February. “We expect FERC to issue an order on the market tariff around Dec. 1,” Rew said. SPP’s Markets and Operations Policy Committee also approved plans for integrating a growing number of battery storage resources into the grid network.

Elizabeth Moore joined the SPP board of directors, which approved SPP’s 2021 operating and capital budgets, “including a $4 million reduction in expenses,” according to SPP President and CEO Barbara Sugg.

“The budget reflects the impacts and uncertainty of the pandemic as well as our ongoing commitment to deliver high-quality services at the lowest possible cost,” Sugg said, adding that the PP office staff continues to work remotely while COVID-19 cases “remain on an upward trajectory in Arkansas.”

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