From Arkansas to the Dakotas, spanning much of the central U.S., four allied power associations joined forces in a regional integrated transmission system last week.
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 (RTO), the final step in achieving full RTO membership.
The action expands Southwest Power Pool’s territory to nearly 575,000 square miles across 14 states, inclusive of more than 800 generating plants, nearly 5,000 substations and 56,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. The system will add approximately 5,000 megawatts of peak demand and 7,600 megawatts of generating capacity.
“The … Integrated System is a significant milestone for SPP as we prepare to celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2016,” SPP President and CEO Nick Brown said. “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.”
Basin Electric CEO and general manager Paul Sukut praised employees for their dedication during the transition, while Heartland CEO Russell Olson added that the move is the culmination of a long-awaited process, representing years of discussions and public involvement between the IS members, SPP, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and customers since the 1990s.
The affiliated power groups are headquartered diversely. Based in Lakewood, Colorado, Western Area Power Administration is part of the Department of Energy, operating in 15 western and central states; Basic is a consumer-owned cooperative in Bismarck, North Dakota; Heartland operates as a non-profit public utility out of Madison, South Dakota; and SPP, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, manages the electric grid and wholesale energy market for the central U.S.