GILLETTE, Wyo. — Basin Electric Power Cooperative is preparing to join Southwest Power Pool’s regional transmission organization, Southwest Power Pool announced Sept. 14.
Southwest Power Pool will become the first organization in the U.S. to provide full regional transmission organization services in both the eastern and western interconnections of the nation’s power grid, according to a news release.
Basin is one of seven western utilities that have committed to becoming full members in the organization, the release said. The others are Colorado Springs Utilities, Deseret Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, Platte River Power Authority, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and three regions of the Western Area Power Administration: Colorado River Storage Project, Rocky Mountain Region and Upper Great Plains-West. They all will join the organization in early 2026.
Western Area Power Administration and Basin Electric announced this month that they want to be members, according to the release. Member companies will gain economic and reliability benefits through a larger generation fleet, more territory and more trading opportunities. Annual savings are supposed to be at least $49 million, according to a Brattle Group study.
This is the first major expansion of Southwest Power Pool’s regional transmission organization territory since October 2015, when it grew from nine to 14 states, the release said.
“Creating multiple market options for new members will enable market designs that align with the unique needs of one or more geographic regions and provide opportunity for all to benefit,” Southwest Power Pool Senior Vice President of Operations Bruce Rew said.
The western utilities now pursuing membership are in the SPP Western Energy Imbalance Service market, which allows efficient, real-time energy dispatch. The market provided an estimated $31.7 million in benefits for participants in 2022 and reduced wholesale energy costs by $1.35/MWh. More reliability and value for participants helped drive the move to full membership.
“Our collaborative and member-driven business model centers on bringing value to our RTO members and those utilities we serve in both interconnections,” Southwest Power Pool President and CEO Barbara Sugg said. “We are thrilled to see this expansion of our RTO and bring our innovative approach to grid management to new customers in the west. This marks not only a key milestone in SPP’s history, but points to the transformation of the energy market in the Western Interconnection, and highlights the opportunities created by having multiple options and market operators in the west.”
More members will join in 2027. Southwest Power Pool has operated as a regional transmission organization since 2004. It has managed regional reliability since 1941.