November 10, 2023

SPP marks milestones and progress across western efforts in early November

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. — Since 2019 when Southwest Power Pool (SPP) officially became a reliability coordinator for several utilities in the Western Interconnection, the grid operator has steadily grown its western customer base and portfolio of western services. The first two weeks of November 2023 have seen SPP make significant progress in continuing to advance three of those services: its operation of the Western Resource Adequacy Program (WRAP) on behalf of Western Power Pool; Markets+, SPP’s proposed bundle of day-ahead and real-time market services; and expansion of SPP’s regional transmission organization (RTO) services into the Western Interconnection.

On November 1, an important element of the Western Power Pool’s WRAP, for which SPP is the program operator and responsible for technical implementation of the program’s design, became operational. The WRAP’s operations program produces updated forecasts each season to help determine if participants will have sufficient resources, and it enables anyone with a deficit to secure additional resources. The operations program will remain non-binding for a period, meaning that no financial charges or deficiency payments will be assessed, but it is now fully functional and available to enhance system reliability.

“SPP is grateful for our partnership with Western Power Pool and the opportunity to help assure resource adequacy for their member utilities,” said Casey Cathey, SPP’s Senior Director of Grid Asset Utilization who has led SPP’s efforts as WRAP program operator. “We understand the importance of both resource adequacy and regionalization, and are proud of the work we’ve done to advance both causes for WRAP participants.”

On November 7 and 8 in Tempe, Arizona, SPP staff facilitated meetings of its Markets+ Participant Executive Committee (MPEC) and Interim Markets+ Independent Panel (IMIP), the decision-making bodies working to develop the rates, terms, conditions and protocols that will govern SPP’s proposed day-ahead market. The groups reviewed and approved significant portions of draft tariff language developed collaboratively by participant-led working groups over the preceding weeks. The tariff language defines how Markets+ will address topics like market transmission use, congestion management, transmission capacity obligations, market manipulation and confidentiality.

“The degree of collaboration and consensus that’s been required to develop this volume of tariff language this quickly is tremendously encouraging,” said Antoine Lucas, SPP’s vice president of markets who is overseeing efforts to build and launch Markets+. “SPP and the Markets+ participants are striking a remarkable balance between speed and meaningful consideration in developing a market that works for all stakeholders. We’re proud to have made such significant progress this week and approved large sections of the Markets+ tariff with no opposition.”

The MPEC comprises representatives of all organizations who executed agreements to participate in Markets+ development, and they report to the three-person IMIP. SPP and the Markets+ participants intend to file the Markets+ tariff with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the first quarter of 2024, anticipating a go-live date in the third quarter of 2026.

On Nov. 9 in Denver, Colorado, SPP formally kicked off the effort to expand its RTO territory into the western interconnection by April 2026. SPP hosted utilities who have committed to joining as members of the SPP RTO and presented their plan to coordinate the utilities’ integration into SPP’s planning, reliability coordination, market and other services over the next 28 months.

“After years of negotiation and planning, SPP is excited to take our first official steps in the implementation of our plan to expand the RTO to the west,” said SPP’s senior vice president of operations Bruce Rew, who leads the RTO expansion program. “We’re eagerly looking forward to the day that these plans come to fruition and we have the opportunity to bolster grid reliability, bring efficiency to planning processes, and leverage the full potential of a single interregional market across two interconnections.” 

SPP first announced its collaboration with western utilities to study the benefits of western RTO expansion in November 2020. Studies have shown an expected $49 million in annual savings for those utilities as a result of RTO expansion.

Meghan Sever, 501-482-2393,