December 14, 2020

An update from SPP President & CEO Barbara Sugg - Dec. 14, 2020

To all of SPP’s valued stakeholders –

As we near the end of 2020, I wanted to share one last update from Southwest Power Pool and offer some reflections on the last few months and the next few that lie ahead.

First, let me thank you all for your trust and partnership this year. When I was selected for the role of president and CEO in January, I was sure it would be the most challenging and rewarding assignment of my career. I had no idea. By the time I officially took the reins of the organization in April, we’d already sent most of our staff to work from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We thought it would be for a couple of weeks. More than nine months later, I have yet to see my first “normal” day. With a recent decision to postpone the first phase of our employees’ return until at least April 2021, it’ll still be some time before we collectively reach a new permanent status quo.

Through all of that change and uncertainty, SPP has done more than survive. We’ve thrived. At the Dec. 7 meeting of SPP’s Board of Directors and Members Committee, we evaluated the results of your responses to our end-of-year surveys. The data showed that even with a staff working almost entirely from home and our stakeholder meetings conducted exclusively by web conference this year, our overall stakeholder satisfaction scores went up for the third consecutive year in a row.

We also saw that the services you rank as most important — reliability coordination, our Integrated Marketplace, and facilitation of our stakeholder process — are the ones with which you are most satisfied. Our staff could not accomplish this alone. If we excelled in serving you, it’s because you’ve been highly engaged, flexible and equally committed to finding win-win solutions that benefit our entire region.

We also appreciate that you shared suggestions for improving our service, too. Continuous improvement is core to our culture, and we take your comments seriously. In addition to ongoing efforts like the Stakeholder Prioritization Process and the new Strategic Roadmap, we’re assigning executives and directors across our organization to develop action plans to address common issues and themes identified in our stakeholder satisfaction survey responses. We’ll share the outcomes of that work in the coming months, and in the meantime, I encourage you to continue to provide feedback in our stakeholder meetings or by contacting your customer relations representative.

Looking ahead to 2021, I’m hopeful. We already have big things in the works:

  • Our Western Energy Imbalance Service (WEIS) market will launch soon, and we’ve begun the new member integration process to evaluate the potential expansion of our RTO into the Western Interconnection, both of which can bring enhanced reliability, cost savings and other benefits of regionalization and the SPP business model to a whole new part of the country.
  • The Markets and Operations Policy Committee’s (MOPC) group reorganization will make our stakeholder process more efficient and productive.
  • The SCRIPT is on track to bring the same kind of innovation to our planning processes that the HITT did for the organization overall.
  • We’ll soon have a new five-year strategic plan that will clearly define our mission, vision and shared objectives for a new era of collaboration and growth.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

I can’t tell you how much I look forward to “business as usual” when we can lift travel restrictions and meet in person again. While we look forward to that day though, I take consolation that we’ve proven the strength of our partnership and the integrity of the SPP business model. Crises don’t build character, they reveal it. This year has revealed the strength of character of the amazing staff I have the honor to lead at SPP. It’s also shown me the character of all of you working on behalf of our region to keep the lights on today and in the future. Working together, we have accomplished incredible things in the face of substantial opposition.

Here’s wishing you all a safe, healthy and happy holiday season and much better times ahead.

Take care and be well,

Barbara Sugg
SPP President & CEO

Derek Wingfield, 501-614-3394,