Wednesday, January 23, 2019

SPP Ramps up Western RC Effort

By Tom Kleckner

OMAHA, Neb. — SPP met last week with Western entities that have expressed interest in its reliability coordinator (RC) services, further evidence the RTO is intent on becoming a serious player in the Western Interconnection.

The grid operator hosted the first meeting of its new Western Interconnection Reliability Coordination Working Group (WIRCWG) Aug. 2 in Westminster, Colo. It said the WIRCWG (suggested pronunciation: work-wig) will eventually become a forum for Western customers and other stakeholders of the RTO’s RC services “to engage in matters of RC-related governance and strategy.”

SPP’s Carl Monroe | © RTO Insider

COO Carl Monroe said SPP hopes WIRCWG’s initial meetings and a “transparent, open-door policy that welcomes questions and concerns from any interested party” will demonstrate “our dependability and customer-focused attitude in the West, where we understand our potential customers may still be feeling us out.”

“SPP has more than 75 years of experience as a regional grid operator, and we’ve built a reputation as a reliable, effective and relationship-based organization among our members, market participants and other contract customers,” he said in a press release.

SPP has already scheduled an Aug. 14-15 meeting at its corporate headquarters in Little Rock, Ark., restricted to entities who have signed a letter of intent (LOI) for RC services. The grid operator says it has received 28 LOIs from Western entities, representing 200 TWh of net energy for load. SPP announced in June that it intends to provide RC services in the Western Interconnection by late 2019. (See Westward Ho: SPP Plans to Become RC in West.)

CEO Nick Brown told stakeholders last week that SPP is intent on establishing agreements with the companies and is following the necessary certification steps “to serve in this capacity.”

“Certainly, we have a good track record of incorporating folks in our RC services,” Brown said, referring to the 2009 and 2014 additions of Nebraska utilities and the Integrated System, respectively. “Our primary goal is to use the expertise we have, and to reach out to other entities and reduce the overall operations costs to our members. We very much expect that to be the case here.”

SPP said that while service agreements are still being negotiated, WIRCWG meetings will help those interested to learn about SPP and have a say in its service offerings in the West. It said 53 attendees were present in Westminster, a number that included members of the RTO’s Operating Reliability Working Group, which met before the WIRCWG meeting. It declined to give a breakdown of the 53 attendees.

Once the group is formally created, future meetings will be posted in advance and it will function like all other SPP working groups, an RTO spokesperson said.

“We’re eager to meet with potential customers, work with them to develop systems and processes to address their distinct needs, and begin a new chapter in the evolution of the power grid in the West,” said Bruce Rew, SPP’s vice president of operations.

With Peak Reliability’s recent decision to end its operations as early as Dec. 31, 2019, SPP and CAISO are now competing to offer RC services across the West. (See Peak Reliability to Wind Down Operations.)

CAISO last month received its first public commitment from an RC customer, the Balancing Authority of Northern California, a joint powers authority that provides balancing services for six California publicly owned utilities, including the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District. (See CAISO Board OKs Rate Plan, RMR Change.) The ISO has said that most Western balancing authorities have signed LOIs for its services. (See Most of West Signs up for CAISO RC Services.)


The Western Electricity Coordinating Council, which is responsible for the region’s bulk electric system compliance monitoring and enforcement, has asked its BAs and transmission operators to confirm which RC they will be using by Sept. 4.

SPP is still interested in integrating the Mountain West Transmission Group into its market, work that has been overshadowed by the competition for RC services and Xcel Energy’s April announcement that it was leaving the Rocky Mountain group. The RTO’s executives told stakeholders last month they expect to hear from the remaining participants in September, once they redo their cost-benefit studies.