Western RC Services

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“SPP has served as an RC in the east for more than two decades and has coordinated electric reliability one way or another since we formed in 1941. We’ve shown consistently throughout our history an ability to coordinate people, systems and complex processes to keep the lights on. We’re thrilled at the possibility of now doing so for new stakeholders in the west.” - SPP President and CEO Nick Brown

SPP brings customer-centric reliability to the west

SPP is bringing its experience as a time-tested grid operator to the Western Interconnection with plans to provide reliability-coordination (RC) services there beginning in late 2019. SPP has indicated its intent to serve as an RC in the west in letters to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and has signed agreements to provide RC services for the following utilities: 

  • Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, Inc.
  • Black Hills Energy’s three electric utilities:  Black Hills Power, Inc., Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power Company, and Black Hills Colorado Electric, Inc.
  • City of Farmington, NM
  • Colorado Springs Utilities
  • El Paso Electric Company
  • Intermountain Rural Electric Association
  • Platte River Power Authority
  • Public Service Company of Colorado (Xcel Energy)
  • Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association
  • Tucson Electric Power
  • Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) Desert Southwest Region, WAPA Rocky Mountain Region, and WAPA Upper Great Plains – West

The chance to provide services to new customers in the west represents an opportunity to enhance reliability in the Western Interconnection while simultaneously benefitting SPP’s existing customers through economies of scale and resulting cost savings.

Experience

SPP is one of 10 U.S. reliability coordinators in the Eastern Interconnection and celebrated its 20th anniversary of NERC RC certification in December 2017. Recognized as an industry leader in the field for its state-of-the-art tools, continuous monitoring systems and superior operator training programs, SPP has an RC service territory today that extends from the Canadian border to the Texas panhandle. Since 2006, SPP has seamlessly managed four large implementations of RC services representing approximately 40 GW of load.

SPP has experience providing contract RC services across a multistate region and has expanded its services and territory several times in the last decade. The regional transmission organization (RTO) incorporated several Nebraska utilities in 2009, implemented its FERC-approved highway/byway cost-allocation methodology and integrated transmission-planning process in 2010, launched its Integrated Marketplace in 2014 and added the Integrated System to its member roster in 2015.

Service and Affordability

SPP understands the complexity and importance of collaboration between reliability coordinators, transmission operators (TOP), and balancing authorities (BA) to ensure reliable and efficient operation of the interconnected transmission system. As an RTO and RC, SPP’s primary duty is to keep the lights on by maintaining constant situational awareness across its footprint, portions of neighboring service territories, and other areas that may impact its own reliability. Its track record proves it has the knowledge, skills and tools to ensure grid reliability, and SPP has demonstrated its ability to work with neighboring RCs and provide leadership to enhance reliability across geographic regions and system borders.

SPP will maintain a west-wide system model and coordinate its maintenance with other appropriate parties. It is likewise committed to working with BAs, TOPs, and other RCs in the Western Interconnection to support the development, enhancement, and maintenance of the Enhanced Curtailment Calculator, Western Interchange Tool, and Western Interconnection Synchrophasor Project and plans to offer services equivalent to Peak Reliability’s hosted applications.

SPP appreciates that reliability standards alone are insufficient to ensure the grid’s reliability and resilience. That is why SPP’s value and service offerings extend well beyond compliance with minimum standards. SPP also provides services no one else in the region does, like rating submission tools, funding of data exchanges and communication tools and real-time transient and voltage-stability monitoring. Though its products and services will evolve as customer needs change, they will initially include:

  • Posted results of energy management system (EMS) real-time contingency analysis
  • Real-time view of the SPP state estimator solution
  • Rating submission tool for RC customers that are also TOPs
  • Redundant ICCP links for RC customers that are also BAs or TOPs
  • BA and TOP site-located satellite phone
  • Western Interchange Tool
  • Geospatial interconnection monitoring for BAs and TOPs
  • Real-time transient stability monitoring to coordinate mitigation with affected TOPs
  • Facilitation of stakeholder engage through a Western Reliability Working Group and Western Reliability Executive Committee
  • Enhanced validation of TOP restoration plans on request
  • Centralized RC-to-TOP and BA messaging tools
  • BA and TOP self-service powerflow and contingency analysis runs on SPP’s model and EMS (requires additional license fees)

Already looking toward the future, SPP is committed to the constant evolution of its tools and processes to keep pace with industry trends. Recently, for example, studies of high penetration levels of variable generation led to the implementation of real-time voltage stability and transient stability tools and new operational studies that consider various levels of wind.

Governance and Stakeholder Involvement

For more than 75 years, SPP has distinguished itself as a stakeholder-driven organization that achieves its business objectives through consensus-building and open, transparent communication. It will bring the same approach to the governance of its western reliability-coordination services and is already at work putting mechanisms in place to ensure not only system reliability but ample opportunities for customer engagement. Meetings are underway now in which western entities have the opportunity to shape the development of SPP’s RC services in the west.

SPP’s Western Reliability Working Group (WRWG) will become the forum for customers of SPP’s western reliability-coordination services to engage in matters of RC-related governance and strategy and with other stakeholders. In the meantime, while service agreements with customers are still being negotiated, its meetings will serve as a jumping-on point for entities looking to learn about SPP or to have a say in the development of the RTO’s service offerings in the west.

WRWG meetings — which may be attended in person or by phone — will be scheduled soon on SPP.org. Those interested in learning more about SPP’s provision of RC service in the west are encouraged to register and attend or to contact SPP’s customer relations department.

Additionally, the NERC and WECC standards-development process is open to all interested stakeholders and permits any entity or individual to propose the development of new or modified reliability standards. SPP also acknowledges the jurisdictions and authority of other regulatory bodies and seeks to work closely with them in the interest of enhanced reliability.

Readiness and Next Steps

SPP is eager to work with potential customers to develop systems and processes to address their distinct needs, and begin a new chapter in the evolution of the power grid in the west. 

With input from customers, future neighboring Reliability Coordinators and regulatory stakeholders, SPP soon will finalize plans for the governance and operation of its western reliability coordination services. This will include filling a number of positions related to system operations and engineering. Following a year-long build-out of the necessary systems, processes and staff to support effective reliability coordination, SPP will seek to be certified as an RC in the second half of 2019.

SPP is working with Peak Reliability and California ISO to coordinate operations with other RCs in the Western Interconnection and will ensure there are no gaps in situational awareness throughout customers’ transitions from one RC to another. SPP-provided RC services will be ready to go live in December 2019.

SPP's RTO and western RC footprints

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