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As 250 stakeholders and board members gathered in person and remotely this month, the nonprofit Southwest Power Pool in Little Rock reported record wind power totals on its transmission lines and said a 10% pandemic-driven decrease in electricity consumption in its 17-state footprint was apparently temporary.
The regional transmission organization, mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to oversee the grid infrastructure and electricity markets in mid-America, approved strategic market roadmaps and plans going forward for grid operations and corporate affairs under new President and CEO Barbara Sugg.
Sugg noted her organization’s continuing expansion in the western United States, including plans in February to launch a new Western Energy Imbalance Service market, and improved cooperation with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO, which also has headquarters in Little Rock.
“We are on track for wind to be our No. 1 fuel this year,” Sugg said in a news release. “We have 24 gigawatts of wind connected to the grid and expect to have 27 gigawatts by the end of the year.” In June, wind production broke SPP records, and July 17 saw a one-day high in the market, 18.3 gigawatts of wind-generated power.
The transmission giant’s records show that electricity demand fell as much as 8-10% in the spring but has now generally returned to normal. “SPP is committed to remaining affordable,” Sugg said, noting that the nonprofit ceased business travel in response to COVID-19 and will be holding many of its meetings virtually next year, primarily to save money.
SPP manages the electric grid across 17 central and western states and provides energy services on a contract basis in both the Eastern and Western Interconnections.