January 28, 2020

SPP announces 2020 transmission expansion plan and electricity storage recommendations

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Southwest Power Pool stakeholders gathered in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Jan. 27-28 for meetings of the board of directors and Regional State Committee of regulatory commissioners. Larry Altenbaumer, board of directors chair, recognized Nick Brown on his retirement after 17 years as president and chief executive officer, Barbara Sugg on her election as president and chief executive officer, Carl Monroe on his retirement after 15 years as chief operating officer, Lanny Nickell on his election as chief operating officer, and Bronwen Bastone on her election to the board of directors.

“SPP has a strong governance structure in place to complete recommendations from the Holistic Integrated Tariff Team and develop a new strategic plan in 2020,” Brown said. “I am very pleased with our members’ and regulators’ engagement with staff, and I leave this meeting with a full heart about the position SPP is in to move forward.”

SPP staff presented an update on the organization’s efforts to further enable electricity storage resources in our region. With Order 841, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) initiated proceedings to ensure storage could participate in regional transmission organization markets. We are working with stakeholders to comply with FERC and incorporate storage into our short- and long-term transmission planning and operational processes.

“SPP and its stakeholders are embracing this exciting technology that we expect will bring impactful and far-reaching changes,” said Richard Dillon, market policy technical director.

Bruce Rew, senior vice president of operations, said wind was our region’s most utilized energy source in the fourth quarter of 2019. We predict wind will overtake coal as the region’s number one energy source in 2021, Rew said.

“Oklahoma and Kansas have recently experienced multiple days when they produced more wind energy than was needed to serve load for their entire states,” Rew said.

The board approved the 2020 SPP Transmission Expansion Plan Report that contains a comprehensive list of transmission projects in the SPP region. According to the report, 78 projects estimated to cost $545 million will be constructed over the next six years in eight states. Last year, SPP’s member companies completed 39 transmission system upgrades in eight states at an estimated cost of $190 million.

These new and pending projects are expected to provide a range of benefits: enabling a rapidly changing generation mix, improving reliability and reducing grid congestion. The plan includes two projects in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma that will be competitively bid through our transmission owner selection process.

“This report documents SPP’s planned infrastructure improvements culminating from processes we perform collaboratively with our stakeholders,” Nickell said. “We look forward to continuing to work with our stakeholders as they make these investments that will provide significant value to the region.”

The board webpage contains meeting materials and registration for future meetings.

About SPP:  Southwest Power Pool, Inc. is a regional transmission organization: a nonprofit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members. SPP manages the electric grid across 17 central and western U.S. states and provides energy services on a contract basis to customers in both the Eastern and Western Interconnections. The company’s headquarters are in Little Rock, Arkansas. Learn more at SPP.org.

Meghan Sever, 501-482-2393, msever@spp.org