By Tom Kleckner
SPP has cast a longing, yet casual, eye at Western markets for some time.
On Thursday, the Arkansas-based RTO made its long-held interest in the West official by “calling on interested utilities and other customers” to help build a real-time market “that will meet the electricity needs of the Western Interconnection.”
“We’re still a long way off from building anything,” SPP spokesman Derek Wingfield told RTO Insider. “We’re looking for people interested in an SPP market.”
Wingfield said the RTO, which has a footprint that stretches from Louisiana across the Great Plains to the Canadian border, has long had “casual conversations with some in the West” about the possibility of an SPP-designed market. Market services would be provided on a contract basis, allowing participants to maintain their independence from an RTO, Wingfield said.
SPP’s market would provide an alternative to CAISO’s Western Energy Imbalance Market, which was established in 2014 with the six-state PacifiCorp system as its first member. CAISO announced Wednesday it had added its first publicly-owned utility in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and says its market has saved members nearly $565 million since it started. (See SMUD Goes Live in Western EIM.)
The RTO did not offer a timeline for its own imbalance market, saying once it found entities interested in market services, it would scope out the market’s needs before talking benefits and timelines.
Monroe would know. He has always been open to discussions with entities interested in joining markets, and he led SPP’s recent effort to absorb the Mountain West Transmission Group, an informal collaboration of 10 electricity service providers in the Rocky Mountains. That effort fell apart last spring, but it gave SPP a deeper insight into the Western Interconnection’s market needs. (See Mountain West, SPP Tout RTO Membership to Colo. PUC.)
In December, SPP will also become the reliability coordinator (RC) for more than a dozen Western entities. The RTO has been working closely with its new customers, future neighboring RCs and regulatory bodies to finalize the governance and operations plans for RC services.
“SPP understands Western utilities’ system needs and approach to business,” said SPP CEO Nick Brown. “Utilities have the daunting task of ensuring electric reliability and affordability for their customers. It’s been our experience that energy imbalance markets are a wonderful way to accomplish that.”
The RTO said its day-ahead market has provided participants more than $2.7 billion in savings since it launched in 2014, and it noted it has provided various services to “dozens of non-member organizations” on a contract basis.
“SPP has experience not only building and administering electricity markets but specifically doing it to meet the needs of a diverse group of customers,” Monroe said.