Western, Basin, Heartland join SPP

At midnight, Western Area Power Administration’s Upper Great Plains Region, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Heartland Consumers Power District successfully transferred functional control of the integrated transmission system to Southwest Power Pool and began operating in the regional transmission organization. This was the final step in achieving full membership in the RTO.

With the inclusion of the IS, SPP’s footprint spans almost 575,000 square miles in all or parts of 14 states in the central U.S. and includes more than 800 generating plants, nearly 5,000 substations and about 56,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines.

“The successful integration of the Integrated System is a significant milestone for SPP as we prepare to celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2016,” said SPP President and CEO Nick Brown. “The IS further diversifies our membership with the addition of a federal agency and creates a more robust transmission network to meet the electrical demand across the region and efficiently operate a wholesale energy market.”

The IS will add about 5,000 megawatts of peak demand and 7,600 megawatts of generating capacity, including a threefold increase in SPP’s current hydroelectric capacity. Western also represents the first federal power marketing administration to become a full RTO member.

The integration is the culmination of years of discussions and public involvement between the IS members, SPP, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and customers. The IS owners have studied several forms of potential regional transmission organization participation since the 1990s. Beginning in 2001, the IS participants began to evaluate potential options of joining SPP, joining the Midcontinent Independent System Operator or continuing operations on a stand-alone basis. These studies identified the option to join SPP as having the most benefit and the least risk. A public process began in November 2013 to hear comments from concerned parties, which resulted in approval to pursue membership in January 2014.

For more information on the membership process, visit https://www.wapa.gov/regions/UGP/PowerMarketing/Pages/spp-membership.aspx.