Southwest Power Pool Transmission Plan Caught
Sep 18, 2007 - Journal Record -
Planning for the future of electricity
generation in Oklahoma is kind of like debating
over which came first: the chicken or the egg.
No one wants to build power plants
in remote areas where there are few customers and
no transmission infrastructure to get that power
onto the grid. On the other hand, no one wants to
build transmission infrastructure in areas where
there are no power plants or few customers to serve.
And no one wants to build anything until they have
a plan in place for recouping their costs.
"So what, do you build it and they
will come?" Jay Caspary, director of engineering
for the Southwest Power Pool, asked members of the
Oklahoma Electric Power Transmission Task Force
on Friday. "And how do you pay for that? It's a
real chicken-and-egg thing here."
SPP, the organization charged with
overseeing electricity issues for an eight-state
region that includes Oklahoma, is working on a 10-
year, $1.4 billion transmission expansion plan.
The plan includes several million dollars' worth
of assumptions and estimates, but despite the uncertainties
involved, the plan is certainly better than nothing,
"Keep in mind that to do nothing
has a cost," he said. "We need a 20-year outlook,
because now we're just doing incremental, reactive
stuff." SPP officials are trying to envision what
they would like the region to look like in 10 or
20 years, and build a plan to make that vision a
A key component of the expansion is
what is known as the X Plan, which is designed to
build wind generation capacity throughout the Central
and South Plains area in the shape of an 'x'. The
plan anticipates that Oklahoma will lead the nation
in wind generation by the year 2024.
Plans to build up wind generation
capacity within SPP's footprint are included in
a broader project known as the EHV Overlay. The
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ordered
regional transmission organizations like SPP to
coordinate with each other and interconnect their
systems, creating an interstate transmission superhighway.
If the SPP identifies a specific construction
project as one that is necessary to ensure the reliability
of the electricity grid, SPP will allow the builder
to recoup 67 percent of their costs from the ratepayers
who directly benefit from the project. The other
33 percent of the cost will be borne by all ratepayers
in the SPP region. But electricity companies face
a challenge in convincing SPP that a project intended
to serve a need projected for years down the road
should qualify as a reimbursable "reliability" project
The Kansas Electric Transmission Authority
contracted with SPP on a study to examine how Kansas
can best fit into the nationwide electricity system.
The study predicts the development of more than
1,500 megawatts of wind generation in Kansas. The
extent and timetable of the plan is highly sensitive
to changes in the price of natural gas, said Caspary.
A $1 increase in the price per unit of natural gas
could triple the cost benefit of the alternative
energy components of the X Plan in Kansas, the study
SPP heralded the commitments energy
producers and others have already made to help bring
the X Plan to fruition. Oklahoma Gas and Electric
Co. has offered to build the western half of the
X Plan into the Texas Panhandle, and Public Service
Company of Oklahoma's parent company AEP has indicated
interest in building a huge portion of the national
overlay project "subject to socialized cost recovery."
ITC Great Plains has offered to build transmission
for specific portions of the project in Kansas,
Oklahoma and Texas.
Oklahoma Secretary of Energy David
Fleischaker said policy leaders in Oklahoma should
support a federal plan to require all states to
include renewable energy sources as part of their
electricity generation portfolio. States in the
Western region with few renewable resources would
have to buy wind-generated power from Oklahoma to
meet the requirement, he said.
To start the planning process in Oklahoma,
task force members voted to create a subcommittee
"to come up with assumptions" regarding the state's
long-term electricity goals, said Rep. Gus Blackwell,
R-Goodwell. The task force has until January to
prepare a report for the Legislature.
Originally published by Janice Francis-Smith.
(c) 2007 Journal Record - Oklahoma
City. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning.
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