Early last year, the Mountain West Transmission Group (Mountain West), in which Colorado Spring Utilities is a participant, announced plans to explore potential membership in an existing regional transmission organization (RTO) if electricity market operational benefits could be realized. Subsequently, Mountain West entered into discussions with Southwest Power Pool (SPP).
Last fall, it was announced that Mountain West completed initial discussions with SPP's management team concerning membership in it's RTO. Through these discussions, Mountain West determined that membership in SPP would provide opportunities to reduce customer costs, and maximize resource and electric grid utilization.
More recently, on March 13, SPP's board of directors approved a set of policies defining the terms and conditions of Mountain West Transmission Group’s potential membership in its RTO. SPP’s board also directed its staff and stakeholders to draft amendments to its tariff, bylaws and membership agreement in support of these policies.
This marks a transition in joint efforts by SPP and Mountain West from negotiation toward implementation, subject to subsequent local, state and federal regulatory approvals, via SPP’s public and transparent stakeholder process.
As a member of Mountain West, we continue to evaluate whether participation in this RTO is a good fit for the future of our community and benefits our customers.
As for next steps for us, an in-depth staff presentation and guest speaker providing insight of another organization's experience with an RTO are scheduled for the May Utilities Board meeting. Then, currently projected for no later than third quarter of 2018, we will ask for Utilities Board approval to continue this stakeholder process and join the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proceeding, requesting FERC approval of the tariff, bylaws and membership agreement amendments agreed to in SPP’s stakeholder process.
While the Mountain West remains optimistic that an RTO would benefit its entire membership, each Mountain West participant will ultimately need to individually evaluate whether potential membership benefits its customers.
Participants in Mountain West include:
- Basin Electric Power Cooperative, based in Bismarck, N.D.;
- Black Hills Energy’s three electric utilities in Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming, subsidiaries of the Rapid City-based Black Hills Corp;
- Colorado Springs Utilities;
- Platte River Power Authority, based in Fort Collins, Colo.;
- Public Service Co. of Colorado, an operating company of Xcel Energy based in Denver;
- Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, based in Westminster, Colo.; and
- Western Area Power Administration Loveland Area Projects and Colorado River Storage Project.
Learn more about this effort.