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Southwest Power Pool says it has seven utilities lined up to participate in its regional transmission organization, the first that to overlap  both the Eastern and Western Interconnections

 

Arkansas-based Southwest Power Pool says it will have a full regional transmission organization, or RTO, operating by early 2026. But this one, unlike others, will be the first to operate in both the Eastern Interconnect and the Western Interconnect.

SPP has received commitments from:

  • Platte River Power Authority;
  • Colorado Springs Utilities;
  • Tri-State G&T;
  • Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska;
  • Desert Generation and Transmission Cooperative;
  • Basin Electric Power Cooperative;
  • Three regions of the Western Area Power Administration (including the Colorado River Storage Project).

They are already participating in the SPP Western Energy Imbalance Service market. Think of that as being the crackers and cheese appetizer and RTO that is coming in 2026 as being the full meal.

Incidentally, United Power, once severed from Tri-State, plans to be part of this SPP-created RTO.

Right now, the options are SPP to the east and the California-based CAISO. Xcel has suggested creation of a Colorado-centric RTO.

Mark Gabriel, the chief executive at United, dismisses that idea as a fantasy, one equivalent to a successful third party at the federal level.

The two grids, Eastern and Western are not synchronized. They sort of speak different languages. They have seven portals, if you will, places where minimal amounts of electricity can be reconfigured and allowed to pass between the two grid. Seven are in the United States and one in Canada. Within the United States, one is in Colorado, northeast of Lamar and one is in Wyoming, between Wheatland and Scottsbluff, Neb. The latter is called the Hamil DC Tie Station, and the closest town is Stegall, Neb. It is pictured above, as seen in September 2020.

Texas speaks a different language altogether in its separate electrical grid, as do Alaska and Quebec.

Allen Best
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