FERC approves expansion of Southwest Power Pool

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014

Federal energy regulators today approved plans to more than double the footprint of Southwest grid operators by adding the Upper Great Plains region of the Western Area Power Administration.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission signed off on the Southwest Power Pool’s proposal to expand its market space to include a large swath of the Upper Great Plains that spans the U.S. electric grid’s Eastern and Western interconnections.

The decision, which wasn’t expected until 2015, expands the amount of the United States operating within regional transmission organizations (EnergyWire, Feb. 28).

“Today’s order is a positive step that greatly expands customer access to organized markets, particularly in the upper-Midwest region, and increases efficiency and reliability for the newly combined market,” FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur said in a statement.

Approved by FERC in 2004, the Southwest Power Pool is the youngest of the nation’s RTOs. The grid operator currently serves nine states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

SPP will now integrate the Western Area Power Administration — Upper Great Plains Region, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Heartland Consumers Power District. Together, the new members provide the backbone of the bulk electric transmission system across seven states in the Upper Great Plains region, consisting of about 9,500 miles of transmission lines, according to FERC.