The Mountain West Transmission Group has begun the process for becoming a member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).
Mountain West says SPP membership would provide opportunities to reduce customer costs and maximize resource and electric grid utilization. The group has been evaluating membership since 2013.
The approval process for SPP membership is likely to takes months and involve multiple rounds of hearings and comments, which are expected to begin in mid-October. If approved, integration into SPP could occur as soon as late 2019.
Participation in a regional transmission organization (RTO) can allow members to access lower power prices and integrate more renewable energy by drawing from generation resources over a large area.
The Mountain West Transmission Group is a coalition of 10 electricity service providers with about 6.4 million customers and 16,000 miles of transmission lines in, mostly in the Rocky Mountain region.
Mountain West’s members include Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Black Hills Energy, Colorado Springs Utilities, Public Service Co. of Colorado, and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Xcel Energy's Denver operation is also a member.
Mountain West began discussions in 2013 to evaluate its transmission options and said analysis indicated that RTO membership and market participation would provide greater benefits to customers than options such as a common tariff. A 2016 Brattle Group report estimated the group could save $53 million to $71 million annually through 2024 through participation in SPP markets.
Mountain West’s members would have to approve the SPP membership proposal.
“Mountain West has reached a point in its negotiations with the Southwest Power Pool management where it believes it is now appropriate to take our potential membership proposal to all SPP stakeholders,” Steve Beuning, Xcel director of market operations, said in a statement.