The board of directors of Southwest Power Pool (SPP) approved the 2020 SPP Transmission Expansion Plan Report, which contains a comprehensive list of transmission projects in the SPP region, at a gathering of the utility's stakeholders in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Jan. 27-28. According to the report, 78 projects estimated to cost US$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 US$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 the SPP's transmission owner selection process.
“This report documents SPP’s planned infrastructure improvements culminating from processes we perform collaboratively with our stakeholders,” SPP's Chief Operating Officer Lanny 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.”
At the Santa Fe meeting, where the Regional State Committee of regulatory commissioners were also present, SPP staff presented an update on the utility’s efforts to further enable electricity storage resources in their region. With Order 841, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) initiated proceedings to ensure storage could participate in regional transmission organization markets. SPP is working with stakeholders to comply with FERC and incorporate storage into their 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 the SPP region’s most utilized energy source in the fourth quarter of 2019. He predicted that wind would 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.
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, 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.”