October 29, 2019

SPP board directs construction of 44 transmission projects; elects new leaders

LITTLE ROCK, AR – More than 120 Southwest Power Pool (SPP) stakeholders gathered in Little Rock on Oct. 28-29 for the annual meeting of members, held in conjunction with the board of directors and Regional State Committee (RSC). The board approved the 2019 Integrated Transmission Plan, requiring SPP members to construct 44 new projects, including 166 miles of 345-kV transmission. These upgrades will facilitate reliable delivery of lower-cost generation. They are expected to reduce SPP’s wholesale energy congestion costs by 21% on average, providing estimated future net savings of up to 23 cents on average monthly residential bills in SPP.

“We collaborated extensively with our stakeholders to determine an optimized portfolio of projects we need to enable the future electric grid. We projected considerable wind and solar growth, conventional generation retirements and impacts of new electrification technologies over the next 10 years,” said Lanny Nickell, SPP senior vice president of engineering. “SPP members are proactively building infrastructure to ensure our region’s power grid remains reliable and affordable during a time of tremendous change in the electric utility industry.”

The board approved a report from the Value and Affordability Task Force (VATF), a stakeholder committee tasked with identifying opportunities to increase SPP’s value and improve affordability. The group made 13 recommendations in its report, such as developing a budget process roadmap and reducing meeting costs. “Standing still is not an option,” said Larry Altenbaumer, chair of the SPP board and VATF. “All SPP stakeholders have a shared responsibility to work as a unified body to create equitable long-term value that’s directly beneficial to end-use consumers.” The Strategic Planning Committee will oversee implementation of the recommendations.

Seven stakeholders were elected to the Members Committee, which includes representatives from all types of SPP member companies:

  • Cooperatives: Tom Christensen (Basin Electric Power Cooperative), Stuart Lowry (Sunflower Electric Power Corporation) and Joel Bladow (Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc.)
  • Independent power producers/marketers: Rob Janssen (Dogwood Energy, LLC)
  • Independent transmission companies: Brett Leopold (ITC Holdings Corporation)
  • Investor-owned utilities: Bleau LaFave (NorthWestern Energy) and Peggy Simmons (Public Service Company of Oklahoma)
  • Large retail customers: Jeff Riles (Google Energy, LLC)
  • Municipals: Chris Jones (City Utilities of Springfield)

SPP President and CEO Nick Brown recognized Harry Skilton and Jim Eckelberger as they complete their director emeritus roles after 19 years of service on the SPP board. He recognized Phyllis Bernard for 16 years as an SPP director as she ends her final board term later this year. Julian Brix and Mark Crisson were re-elected to the board.

The RSC, which consists of state regulators from across SPP’s 14-state region, elected officers for one-year terms. Dennis Grennan of the Nebraska Power Review Board will serve as president, Kristie Fiegen of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission will serve as vice president, and Randel Christmann of the North Dakota Public Service Commission will serve as secretary.

In advance of the board meeting, the Markets and Operations Policy Committee met Oct. 15-16 and approved a number of items, including a white paper on wind and solar accreditation and revisions to SPP’s Open Access Transmission Tariff regarding fast-start pricing, market ramp capability products and Attachment Z2 revenue crediting. These and other actions were taken to refine SPP’s markets, planning and operations processes and to position SPP to improve its responsiveness to technological changes, public policy and other industry trends.

Derek Wingfield, 501-614-3394, dwingfield@spp.org