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Southwest Power Pool Adds Colorado Springs Utilities

Aug. 17, 2022
Grid operator SPP sees continued interest in energy services that bring affordability and reliability to the west.

After more than a year of preparation, Colorado Springs Utilities became an active participant in Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) Western Energy Imbalance Service (WEIS) market at midnight on Aug. 1, 2022. SPP’s WEIS market enhances the reliability and affordability of wholesale electricity by serving the real-time demand for electricity with the lowest-cost generating resources available in the market at any given time.

“Participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Service Market is a significant step in our pursuit of clean energy goals and sends a strong signal that we’re doing everything possible to secure a reliable electric grid and reduce energy-related costs for our customers,” said Aram Benyamin, CEO, Colorado Springs Utilities. “Considering the volatile nature of today’s energy market, having access to increased market intelligence and the ability to quickly integrate different utilities’ generating resources into our system provides unparalleled value to our community. I want to thank our employees for their hard work and commitment to our customers ⁠— traits that make moments like this possible.”

Colorado Springs Utilities joins eight other western utilities already participating in the market, with three others scheduled to join in April 2023: Xcel Energy-Colorado, Platte River Power Authority and Black Hills Colorado Electric, LLC.“It’s encouraging to see the continued growth of SPP’s energy services in the west,” said  Bruce Rew , senior vice president of operations, SPP. “Organized markets save utilities and their customers money, make the delivery of electricity to customers more reliable, and help utilities and states achieve clean energy goals. We’re excited that in addition to Colorado Springs Utilities, numerous other organizations are investigating WEIS participation, the development of our Markets+ service and full membership in our regional transmission organization (RTO).”

As it begins to reap benefits from the market intelligence, centralized dispatch of electricity, and cost-savings provided by SPP’s WEIS market, Colorado Springs Utilities is also part of an SPP-coordinated effort by several utilities to evaluate membership in the SPP RTO. While SPP administers the WEIS market on a contract basis to nonmembers, it provides RTO members an entire suite of valuable services including market administration, transmission planning, reliability coordination and more.

A 2021 SPP-Brattle study estimated the WEIS participants’ move to RTO membership would produce US$ 49 million in benefits and those would grow with additional western members. The western utilities’ evaluation of membership is expected to conclude later this year, with the terms and start dates of interested parties’ membership agreements to be announced then.

Simultaneously, SPP is also working with numerous interested parties to develop a service offering called Markets+: a bundle of services that could centralize day-ahead and real-time unit commitment and dispatch, provide hurdle-free transmission service across its footprint and pave the way for the reliable integration of a rapidly growing fleet of renewable generation. For utilities that see value in these services but who aren’t ready to pursue full membership in a regional transmission organization (RTO) at this time, Markets+ provides a voluntary, incremental opportunity to realize significant benefits. SPP is finalizing a proposed market design for this service now and will publish it for interested parties’ consideration in fall 2022.

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