Southwest Power Pool approves builders for $55 million transmission project

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,494 views 

Little Rock-based regional transmission organization Southwest Power Pool (SPP) announced Tuesday (April 26) the contractor for a 48.4-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line project in Oklahoma. The announcement for the $55 million project came about a month after SPP reported record renewable energy generation.

According to a news release, the SPP board of directors approved NextEra Energy Transmission Southwest LLC to complete the Minco-Pleasant Valley-Draper transmission project. Transource Oklahoma LLC is the alternate builder.

The transmission line between the Minco and Draper substations in the Oklahoma City area is expected to be completed in 2024.

The project need was noted in SPP’s 2020 Integrated Transmission Planning Assessment Report which shows it would address area congestion.

An SPP panel reviews, ranks and scores proposals for certain transmission projects approved for construction by the SPP board of directors. The panel evaluated this project through SPP’s competitive transmission owner selection process, which is required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The SPP board of directors approved the panel’s recommendation for NextEra to complete the project.

SPP manages the electric grid across 17 central and western states and provides energy services to customers in the Eastern and Western Interconnections.

In March, SPP announced reaching record levels of renewable energy production. On March 29, SPP set a renewable energy penetration record of 90.2%, beating the previous record of 87.5% set May 8, 2021. This means SPP met 90.2% of its electricity demand with renewable energy.

It was the first time a regional transmission organization met more than 90% of electricity demand with renewable energy sources, according to a news release. Of the total demand, 88.5% was met with wind generation, exceeding the previous wind penetration record of 84% set May 8, 2021.

On March 28, the SPP region produced a record 23,802 megawatts of renewable energy, up from the previous record of 21,820 megawatts set Feb. 15. Also that day, SPP set a wind production record of 22,915 megawatts, exceeding the previous record of 21,820 megawatts on Feb. 15.

“In a decade’s time, our region has gone from thinking of 25% renewable-penetration levels as nearly unreachable to a point where we regularly exceed 75% without reliability concerns,” said Bruce Rew, senior vice president of operations for SPP. “We’re able to manage wind generation more effectively than other, smaller systems can because we’ve got a huge pool of resources to draw from.”

SPP has more than 66 gigawatts of renewables in its generator interconnection queue in line to be connected to the power grid.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), wind was the second-largest source of electricity generation on March 29. Wind turbines in the lower 48 states produced 2,017 gigawatt-hours of electricity, exceeding the electricity produced by nuclear and coal-fired plants. Only natural gas produced more electricity that day.

Consistent growth in the number of wind turbines installed in the United States has led to more wind-powered electricity generation, according to the EIA. On a monthly basis, wind is not expected to surpass nuclear or coal-fired generation in any month in 2022 or 2023.

Along with SPP, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas also reported wind penetration records on March 29. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas reported wind penetration of 67.2% for the day.